BRE’s widely used BREEAM environmental rating system and the principal method of calculating Part L compliance are to be overhauled to take account of the drive towards zero-carbon buildings.

BRE is to add a rating above the present top category of “excellent” in April next year. It is likely to be called “outstanding”.

Tom Saunders, who is responsible for special projects on the BREEAM team, said the rating was intended to encourage people to develop greener buildings.

The present system awards points from 1 to 100 based on environmental criteria. Saunders said: “At the moment you can get an “excellent” rating with 70.1. This might encourage people to aim higher.”

BRE is finalising requirements for the new level, but Saunders said it was unlikely that a building would need to be zero-carbon to be “outstanding”. However, he added that BRE was considering this for future revisions. The new level may set a minimum standard for energy use.

At the moment you can get an ‘excellent’ rating with 70.1

Tom Saunders, Breeam

Meanwhile, the 2016 Zero Carbon Homes Taskforce has asked the Construction Products Association (CPA) to examine the SAP system for calculating compliance with Part L of the Building Regulations. This is due to be introduced in 2010, when Part L is next revised.

John Tebbit, the CPA’s industry affairs director, said it needed revision to accommodate future changes to Part L. He cited the example of hot water use, which is calculated by floor area rather than number of occupants in a house. This means larger homes would lose out as standards rise. The contribution of thermal mass to energy use may also be considered in the revised SAP.

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