It’s high time the government took the opportunity to regulate energy wasting conservatories

References to the requirements associated with conservatories are conspicuous by their absence in Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) recently launched consultation on Part L of the building regulations. This is potentially a major omission and begs the question, why are conservatories under 30m2 still exempt from the Part L requirements?

In terms of increasing the carbon footprint of a home, adding a conservatory has a disproportionate impact

Vested interests have argued (at previous revisions of Part L) that conservatories should not be subject to Part L requirements since they are “untreated spaces”. The officials within DCLG responsible for Part L seem to have accepted this argument, provided there is a door between the house and the conservatory and that an existing heating system is not extended to heat the conservatory.

I’m not sure what evidence exists to justify the assertion that conservatories are “untreated spaces”, but in my experience almost every conservatory ends up being heated (often electrically) and in many cases air conditioned in the summer as well.

Also, the doors between the conservatory and the rest of the house are often never fitted, removed or left open for most of the time. In terms of increasing the carbon footprint of a home, in my opinion, adding a conservatory has a disproportionate impact.

So, should conservatories continue to be exempt? I don’t believe so. I think it’s high time the Part L regulations ensured that conservatories under 30m2 are designed and constructed to minimise the requirements for heating and cooling.

Furthermore, the Part L consultation is silent regarding whether adding a conservatory to a home will trigger the requirements associated with consequential improvements. I presume not. However, this seems a significant loophole and really should be closed.

I suggest that DCLG commissions a research project to determine the proportion of conservatories constructed over the past 10 years which now have some form of heating, cooling or both. This survey could be quickly conducted during the consultation period and would not be expensive to undertake. The findings would, however, prove once and for all the energy and carbon implications associated with continuing to allow conservatories to fall outside the Part L provisions.

David Strong is director of David Strong Consulting