Cabinet Office review places new Part L under threat by recommending revised energy targets for buildings.
The construction industry faces another round of radical change if the government adopts proposals in a new report saying buildings must generate their own energy.

The Cabinet Office review says the DTLR should consider legislation stipulating that all buildings must be energy self-sufficient.

The implications of the report for the Building Regulations could be dramatic, as the adoption of the proposals could mean that Part L has to be rewritten.

The report, written by the by the Cabinet Office's performance and innovation unit, says: "[The DTLR should] review the costs and benefits of moving towards 'near-zero space heating' buildings well in advance of the next review of the energy efficiency component of the Building Regulations."

The report, yet to be published but seen by Building, concedes that the plan could be attacked by some in the industry, especially as the Part L energy regulations have just been changed to cut carbon dioxide emissions and will only come into effect next April.

It says: "There are genuine concerns about the impact of major changes on the construction sector if these are brought in too quickly."

There are concerns about the impact of changes on construction

Cabinet Office energy review

But the authors of the report claim the bulk of energy savings in new buildings can be made by increasing use of solar panels to clad buildings.

The innovations unit concludes: "Integrated photovoltaics [solar panels] have the most potential. These are currently expensive, although they are already economic as an alternative to expensive cladding." It estimates that solar panels might not become cost effective until 2020 but argues nevertheless that their inclusion in new buildings may be justified before that date.

The review also says energy efficiency targets should be set for existing buildings, noting that legislation could be introduced in five years to ensure changes took place.

The report, part of the government's drive to meet the UK's commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2010, could lead to a wave of environmentally friendly buildings such as architect Bill Dunster's Flower Tower (pictured), which is designed to generate more energy than it uses. Developers in Shanghai and London have already shown interest in putting up this building.