The Future Of Building Regulations & Standards | Anabas
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The Future of Building Regulations and Standards

At the beginning of 2021, the UK government proposed “the future buildings standard”, capturing points of upcoming change in building regulation guidelines. As this consultation parallels the reopening of many workplaces, it is an opportunity for facilities managers to review their premises, considering how building use is evolving post-pandemic, and make relevant adjustments.

Supporting zero-carbon aspirations in commercial buildings, the Future Buildings Standard establishes that from 2025 onwards new energy regulations will apply, as it aspires to halve the energy use of new buildings by 2030.

The newly proposed changes to Part L of the Buildings Regulation, which regulates heating, lighting, and hot water energy use in buildings, could see a 27% reduction in CO2 emissions on average per building.

What do the changes look like?

Currently 40% of energy usage in the UK is directly accountable to heating and powering buildings. The future era of energy, especially as it relates to heating, will need to outgrow this. Instead, new technologies such as hydrogen and heat pumps look to pioneer energy efficiency in commercial properties, which will help maximise operational costs in the long-term.

A large proportion of the Future Buildings Standard is also focused on futureproofing for overheating and a general increase in temperature because of changes in climate. Office buildings created 50 years ago will not be suitable in 10-, 20- or 30-years’ time and putting in appropriate measures to ensure overheating in buildings doesn’t happen is paramount, according to these regulations. These new regulatory changes will enforce energy efficiency and other standards across commercial property, which covers a lot of ground.

Covering wellbeing, and firming up key targets, the Future Buildings Standard is set to ensure buildings reduce carbon and improve health and wellbeing outcomes. However, these measures need to be sustainable, reliable, and scalable. Air conditioning units that require extensive repairs, or that do not sanitise the air are no longer adequate. In the post-pandemic climate, air conditioning sterilisation and filtering has also become a pressing concern for facilities managers.

Futureproofing isn’t one size fits all

Uplift in 2021 is a focus point of the Future Building Standard. Creating a workplace that can become more responsive, both in scale and adaptability, by incorporating better technology such as heat pumps and similar decarbonised energy and heat sources, is a new priority.

Currently, any existing buildings with sluggish performance, design, or inadequate maintenance processes, may desire better compliance.

 An Innovate UK study suggests that this issue is more widespread, and that:

  • There is no single, simple remedy for a successful building with low energy use and carbon emissions
  • Buildings with poor control of space and water heating and/or lighting often had high emissions
  • Some low-carbon technologies can be problematic to operate
  • Controls are often too complicated
  • Building management systems often lead to confusion and wasteful energy use

While it is difficult to quickly respond to these changes, as some are often fundamental to a buildings structure, ensuring all future buildings are built for efficiency and compliance is key. A holistic approach to design, for example, can support energy performance in buildings.

The UK government has also committed to consulting on introducing mandatory in-use energy performance ratings for commercial properties, which will be published soon. Where EPC certificates don’t reliably predict the actual energy use, a change to Display Energy Certificates is probable.

Other solutions are likely to emerge in response to energy efficiency, including: 

  • Promising technology

Using intelligent systems, such as heat sensors, is also likely to be mandated in new buildings. These systems will be at the core of improving building efficiency. Occupancy sensors will allow managers to predict when their sites will be at high or low capacity. HVAC systems, energy controls and cleaning can be planned accordingly. This can help to save significant amounts of resources and power by not over-servicing a site. Efficient premises are both greener and lower cost.

  • The Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT was gaining ground before the pandemic. As with other innovations, the approach will undoubtedly accelerate in the next few years. Using an IoT approach which links systems across a site allows for technology to become both predictive and responsive. HVAC systems can be set to respond to occupancy levels and automatic notifications can alert building managers to any issues. The IoT can also help businesses to demonstrate compliance to building regulation standards by providing a digital audit trail of processes and time stamps.

As we enter the new normal of the post covid world, systems, and processes such as improved ventilation and data-driven cleaning should all be seen as investments in the long-term future of a workplace. For further information or advice on how Anabas can support you in improving energy efficiency in your workplace, please contact us.

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