Angela Smith pledges her support, and initiates reform of Building Regs

Building Regulations minister Angela Smith has pledged her support for the 99% campaign, which was launched last week by Building to highlight the need to improve energy efficiency in existing buildings.

Smith said the government was looking at possible incentives, and would welcome input from readers of Building. She said: "In terms of the sustainability of existing buildings we have the DTI, ourselves, Defra and the Treasury on a cross-government body looking at this, so what your readers say will inform that."

She said specifically of the campaign: "I think it's great, and I'm really encouraged by it."

She made her comments in advance of round table talks hosted by the Department for Communities and Local Government on reforming Building Regulations, as called for by the Reform the Regs campaign launched by Building last November.

These talks mark the first stage in acting on the measures called for by Building. Key figures in the industry, including Michael Ankers, chief executive of the Construction Products Association, gathered on Wednesday to give their views on what was wrong and how improvements could be made.

Smith said further meetings with industry were likely and that she wished to be closely involved. She said that a key factor in achieving success was to ensure better compliance with regulations, and that the government wanted to help the industry by giving it clearer and better guidance and information.

Smith added that she wanted to avoid a recurrence of the problems with Part L: "I don't think it was as bad as some people indicated, but I think we could have done better."

Round table delegates spoke positively about their experience afterwards. Ankers said: "Everyone made positive suggestions and showed they wanted to work with the minister. I was impressed by her - she seemed genuinely willing to listen."

Issues raised at the meeting were similar to those at the building regulations summit Building hosted in March.

Suggestions from government's summit included introducing regulations at intervals according to a timetable that set out objectives up to 25 years ahead. These would be dedicated to building types rather than the building elements, there would be measures to help building control bodies ensure better compliance and make regulations simpler and easier to understand.