The Kyoto Protocol signed at the earth summit in Japan resulted in the British Government, among many others, signing up to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to pre-1990 levels. The British government is committed to achieving this and to continue to reduce emissions which cause global warming. One of the ways in which to achieve these targets is by insulating homes to reduce their energy requirements.
It is estimated that domestic properties use about 25% of the energy consumed in the UK. In recent years the Building Regulations have had a new section called Section L or Document L covering the conservation of fuel and power. Every few years Document L is reviewed and the conservation requirements are increased.
The impact on housing is significant. A few years ago Building Regulations required all houses to be built with double glazing and limited the window areas. Anyone wanting large windows had to take appropriate measures such as fitting Pilkington K into them. As the Document L screw is tightened, a whole series of changes affecting cavity wall insulation, loft space insulation and floor insulation are being introduced.
Exceptions to new Doc L
- Conservatories are exempt provided they are separated from the rest of the building (for example by doors) or they are unheated
- Historic buildings are merely expected to ‘achieve the best they can’ although any improvement in thermal efficiency is welcomed
- Broken sealed units can be replaced ‘like for like’ (the regulations apply to the entire window replacement)
Energy Saving Recommended Scheme
Currently, manufacturers/organisations voluntarily submit their windows for energy efficiency accreditation. This is now very important to the organisations as consumers are more aware of energy saving products and this is continuously increasing with many people so much more conscious of the financial and environmental benefits.
The Energy Saving Trust supports the British Fenestration Rating Council’s (BFRC) domestic window energy rating scheme (WER) by accrediting any window rated ‘band-C’ or above, helping consumers to readily compare the energy efficiency of competing products using a recognisable mark/grade for everyone to understand.
The BFRC’s WER scheme is based on the whole window. The higher the BFRC rating indicates a more thermally efficient window. The window is given a rating of A-G BFRC bands of the window energy label. It is this band that provides the basis for energy saving recommended certification. So it’s very important for organisations to ensure their products are assessed and manufactured to the highest grade.