07 - 09 March 2023 | ExCeL, London

07 - 09 March 2023
ExCeL, London

Opinion piece

Putting ConTech at the Heart of Evidencing Part L Compliance

An opinion piece article by Sion Bellis, Chief Residential Officer, Zutec

From 15th June 2022, all new homes registered in England and Wales must produce 31% less CO2 emissions on the current SAP model, to comply with the uplifted Part L standard (or Approved Document L 2021) of the UK’s Building Regulations. For now, Part L 2021 provides an interim improvement in energy efficiency for individual dwellings being built, in readiness for upcoming regulations such as the more rigorous Future Homes and Future Building Standard in 2025.  This standard will complement existing building regulations and will be the turning point in which the UK government is hoping to reduce carbon emissions in new homes by 75-80%.

By complying with Part L 2021 now, housebuilders can take the first steps towards carbon net neutrality for new and refurbished individual dwellings and avoid costly retrofitting ahead of 2025—although, refurbishments on housing will be viewed on a case-by-case basis, as many older buildings may require more work around ventilation to comply with these new requirements.

There are many components that form part of the process to make properties more energy efficient and, in order for SAP assessors to release EPCs (Energy Performance Certificates) and the new BREL Report (Building Regulation England Part L Report), housebuilders will need proof of work done. Where this article will focus and what is required to comply with Part L 2021, is photographic evidence that shows all new builds and refurbished dwellings are constructed using materials and technology that ensure energy savings. 

This includes low-carbon heating options, fabric and thermal insulation improvements, or new technology utilisation such as heat pumps, cooling systems and fixed lighting to reduce fuel consumption. Measures will not only help the government meet its climate change goals but tackle the problem of overheating, which will drive down costly bills for families.

Failure to comply with a photo log of evidence throughout construction process poses a risk of severe project delays, as this evidence can’t be provided retrospectively once properties are built.

So what does this really mean for housebuilders and what is the role of tech?

In today’s digital world, technology is playing an ever-increasing role in construction, particularly in how houses and dwellings are developed, managed and delivered to owners.  Data, which includes everything from planning and design through to construction and maintenance, can be structured and managed within a digital platform to support decision-making, change requests, approvals, productivity, desired outcomes and evidence that something has been built in a certain way to be compliant with building regulations. This means for many that uplifted regulations are not just about changing the composition of buildings for compliance purposes.  They are about how site teams work and process data too.

When it comes to Part L 2021, technology will play a critical role throughout the build stage, not only to take the mandatory photographic evidence needed, but to manage and share that evidence too. As photos must be taken throughout the build lifecycle, having processes and workflows in place to ensure these photos are taken correctly in line with the programme, and can be traced back to a particular project, site location and dwelling, will be absolutely essential. Photos not only have to be taken of the insulation and installations themselves that will deliver this energy efficiency, but there is a requirement for that photo to be geo-referenced and easily accessible for SAP assessors to review and inspect… and this is where a digital quality management platform comes into play.

One platform.  One source of truth.

A construction SaaS platform such as Zutec, provides a common data environment to support the requirements outlined above.  It’s the perfect solution to take geo-located photos from any mobile device while on site, and ensures photos match the project and location.  Photos and correlating data can be centrally recorded and accessible by all key stakeholders from the house builder to the owner, as well as SAP assessor as they inspect evidence on the road toward Part L 2021 compliance. Quick to implement and simple to use, where there is no need for a Wi-Fi connection to process data, a platform like this means one place where all photographic evidence and supporting documentation lives, where photos can be marked up and shared with team members and inspectors. Additional benefits include improved team communications, assignment of tasks and the ability close and sign off installations. One tool for everything.

For the construction industry, Part L 2021 is the first step towards greater quality assurance, traceability and accountability, in order to ensure the most efficient products and materials are used to close the gap between how energy-efficient buildings should be and how they perform in the real world. Unfortunately, what is required today is not always reality. All in all, these changes will ensure housebuilders and contractors meet higher standards as regulations get far more stringent and puts a greater emphasis on the housebuilder to provide the evidence for the SAP calculation, as assessors work towards signing a BREL compliance report off. A platform is the most efficient and effective way to evidence compliance to this and other upcoming building regulations and means management can monitor how their teams are performing and delivering this requirement.

While this seems like a big step for housebuilders into a new and unknown territory, this isn’t the case. Photos are already a requirement when EPCs are created for existing buildings.  The difference is the site managers normally take the photos during the onsite walkaround inspection. It therefore makes complete sense that housebuilders are now expected to do this work and collect details and evidence during the build stage to demonstrate the work that has been completed by their teams. One platform like Zutec’s will ensure that housebuilders not only provide evidence of efficiencies being made, but this data provides a single source of truth, which can be used for other quality management and assurance purposes further down the line.

Zutec is an established CDE and the one stop shop for Quality Management. To find out more or receive a demo, please reach out to us at contact@zutec.com, and one of our experienced team will be in touch. Join us in our next webinar on Part L to hear more on this.

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