The world is changing. The traditional A to P Building Regulations have been sidelined by a new body of rules aimed at lessening the impact of the built environment on the natural one.

They are much more onerous than the old ones, and will become more so as time goes by. This supplement shines some light on what lies ahead and how much it will cost.

Some of the new rules are with us already. The Code for Sustainable Homes took effect last week and will have an immediate impact on social housing providers as all schemes with Housing Corporation funding will have to achieve code level three, which is much more expensive than the EcoHomes “very good” standard. But the really big challenge is the introduction of zero-carbon housing by 2016. As our feature shows, the jump from homes that are carbon neutral in terms of heating to those that generate power for everything else in the home is huge. Among the many unanswered questions about the proposal is the basic one of how are we going to generate all that power? In comparison, the proposed water regulations should be a breeze. Then there is the energy certification of buildings, which takes effect in June for homes and next year for everything else.

The good news is that only small increases in rental premiums are needed to pay for the costs of making office buildings more energy efficient than the latest Part L. And speaking of Part L, it seems that the industry is still struggling to get to grips with this a year after its introduction, which doesn’t bode well for the future. So if the industry is going to rise to the challenges presented by the new rules it needs to get cracking now.