Liam Williamson* (pictured above) discuses the changes to Part L Building Regulations and how these will affect the UK glass industry, including their impact on glazing products for new dwellings.

  • The long-awaited changes to the UK Building Regulations were finally published in December 2021 and will come into force on 15th June 2022.
  • These changes focus on greater fabric performance and reduced energy demand, with the ultimate aim of cutting carbon emissions from new homes by around 30%.
  • One of the five new Approved Documents, Part L (‘Conservation of Fuel and Power’), will have a significant impact on glass and glazing products, particularly for new dwellings.

What has changed?

The 2021 edition of Approved Document L, Volume 1, introduces new minimum efficiency standards (backstop values) for both new and replacement thermal elements, windows and doors. New build schemes will be assessed under the new SAP 10 (Standard Assessment Procedure) method. Most types of new window, including roof windows and glazed doors, must now achieve an improved U-value of 1.6 W/m2K compared to 2.0 W/m2K previously. However, the U-value of the glass will have to be much lower than this to enable a new dwelling to achieve its targets for primary energy, carbon emissions and fabric energy efficiency rates.

Notional and backstop values in SAP 10.

The changes to Part L concern both new and existing dwellings. For existing dwellings, nothing has really changed in terms of the glazing requirements. The previous Part L document and the new version both allow house builders to use the same glass to achieve building regulations for existing homes. For example, Guardian ClimaGuard A+ thermal insulating glass was applicable to the previous Part L regulations for existing dwellings and can still now be used to meet the new Part L regulations.

As for new dwellings, the U-value for glazing has been tightened to a notional target of 1.2 [W/m2K], compared to 1.4 in the previous edition. This means glass manufacturers need to provide products that have an Ug-value of 1.0 in order to meet the new regulations. This is due to the complete window system including its frame, sealant and spacer bar must be considered when calculating the U-value. In order to achieve a notional UW-value of 1.2, house builders and architects will need to specify glass products with an Ug-value of 1.0 W/m2K.

How does this affect the UK glass industry?

These changes will have an impact on the type of glass products house builders can use, as well as which glass products glass processors and window makers will choose to stock.

In the previous Part L edition, a glass product with a 1.2 Ug-value could be used for windows in both new and existing dwellings. However, with the new Part L regulations, glass processors will now need to consider having either two type of Ug-value product in their offer – 1.2 and 1.0 W/m2K, or choosing only 1.0 Ug-value product that can cover both existing builds and new builds as well.

High-level energy performance

To achieve an Ug-value of 1.0 W/m2K, Guardian Glass has taken a very different approach, believing that the glass should help bring as much natural daylight as possible into people’s homes, with clearer, less reflective view. ClimaGuard Neutral 1.0 is more colour-neutral with a lower reflection.

ClimaGuard Neutral 1.0 achieves 74% light transmission for a double IGU 4-16-4 panel (coating on surface #3, 90% argon fill), 14% light reflection and a solar factor of 52%.

Heat treatment and stocking

Guardian ClimaGuard Neutral 1.0 will be supplied annealed as standard to the glass processor, whom can then heat treat the glass for safety applications if needed. In both cases the product meets the 1.0 Ug-value requirement. This means glass processors don’t need to stock two different glass products (a heat treatable version and an annealed version) to meet the demand from window makers.

Is triple glazing the future?

The changes to Part L aim to fill the gap before the UK Government’s ‘Future Homes Standard’ comes into play in 2025. One of the aims of Part L over the last few years has been to try to push the building industry towards the use of triple glazing. In the UK, only 2-3% of builds utilise triple glazing. The UK climate doesn’t require triple glazing everywhere, as its inhabitants are not usually subjected to the extremes of hot and cold.

Currently the U-values for windows are 1.4 and 1.2 W/m2K. If the Building Regulations were moved down to 1.0 or below, double-glazing would no longer be able to meet these tighter regulations. A move towards increased use of triple glazing is therefore inevitable. The industry and regulations are moving towards more energy efficient buildings and so triple glazing will have a key role to play here. We obviously need to wait for 2025 to see what happens to the regulations, but rest assured that Guardian Glass will work with glass processors to develop the best possible economical solution to meet the applicable requirements.

*Marketing Segment Manager, Guardian Glass, Goole, UK