British Building Regulations: A Look at Efficiency

The Climate Change Act, passed in 2008, commits to a steep energy reduction goal. By the 2050 target date, emissions must be reduced at least 80 per cent from 1990 levels. In order to meet these stringent requirements, the UK government has created several new problems and put new measures in place.

The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) was established in 2006 and is responsible for many items affecting local government. Among these are building regulations aimed and safety, accessibility, and environmental impact reduction. The DCLG is the primary overseer of UK building regulations and oversees or participates in many energy efficiency measures, including:


An EPC inspection is required for any new building construction and for existing buildings when they are sold or put on the rental market. EPCs rate the energy efficiency of a building on a scale from A to G, where A is the most efficient and G is a failing grade.

An EPC certificate lets a renter or buyer know how much utilities in the building are likely to cost. It also predicts the carbon dioxide emissions for the property. The EPC certificate is not just a rating though. The inspection also provides advice for making improvements and cost effective measures to increase the rating.

An EPC is valid for 10 years before it has to be renewed. If you are planning to sell or rent your property in the near future, you should schedule an inspection with a licensed Domestic Energy Assessor.


The National Planning Policy Framework, published in March 2012, set forth ambitious plans for reducing UK carbon emissions. The Low Carbon Innovation Coordinate Group (LCICG) has created a strategic framework and is legally committed to harvesting 15 per cent of UK energy from renewable resources by the year 2020.

As part of the national framework, all new homes are expected to have a zero carbon footprint by 2016. Additionally, the Green Deal is a program for existing homes:


The Green Deal is a long-term program dedicated to increasing the efficiency of British homes. The Green Deal helps people make energy-saving upgrades such as insulation, draught proofing, renewable energy generation, and installing efficient heating and double-glazed windows.

You can get an assessment to discover the best ways to enhance your home’s efficiency. Once measures have been proposed, the assessment provider can help you get a quote for a low-interest loan and find an installer. The loan can be paid back over several years through an addition to your electricity bill.


The updated Building Regulations in England that took effect in July 2013 requires that any new construction projects must conduct feasibility reports for high-efficiency measures such as cogeneration, energy from renewable resources, and heat pumps. A report must be provided to the building control body before construction begins.

For existing buildings, when a thermal element within any building needs to be renovated, the entire unit must be upgraded to meet energy efficiency standards if at all possible. If this is not technically or economically feasible, a waiver must be obtained.

In addition, Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) programs provide financial incentives for domestic and non-domestic buildings to convert to heat pumps, biomass boilers or pellet stoves, and solar thermal panels. The RHI has been billed as the first long-term financial support program for renewable heat in the world. For a period of 20 years for non-domestic construction projects or 7 years for domestic buildings, the government will pay a subsidy based on the level of efficiency for the installed boiler.

This is just a brief overview of the energy efficiency incentives, programs, and regulations in place in the UK. Change has been rapid, especially in the past two years, so it is important to do your research and consult with a Domestic Energy Assessor before renovating or purchasing a property.


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