08 Mar, 2024

Overview of Approved Document F Changes in 2022

Introduction: The Building Regulations Part F, focusing on ventilation, has undergone significant changes in 2022. Established in 2010, this document faced challenges over the years due to identified issues and concerns regarding non-compliance with guidance requirements. Recent guidance from Public Health England on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) indoors and World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations necessitated updates, rendering the existing Part F outdated.

The Future Homes Standard Consultation:

Background: The 'Future Homes Standard: changes to Part L and Part F of the Building Regulations for new dwellings' consultation marked the initial phase of a two-part consultation aiming to propose changes to the Building Regulations. With a focus on enhancing energy efficiency requirements for new homes, these standards are designed to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Energy Efficiency Goals: The government envisions a significant reduction in carbon emissions, targeting an average home to emit 75-80% less carbon than those built to current energy efficiency requirements. Achieving this ambitious goal requires substantial changes in construction practices.

Increased Ventilation Requirements:

Link Between Part L and Part F: Part L and Part F are closely linked in the Building Regulations. To meet the low-energy building standards set by the government, new homes must become more airtight. However, without adequate ventilation, homes can become uncomfortably warm and pose health risks. Part F had to evolve to ensure optimal indoor air quality and user comfort by increasing ventilation levels.

Changes in Mechanical Ventilation: Mechanical ventilation, including intermittent extract, continuous extract (MEV systems), or supply & extract (MVHR systems), is recognized as the most effective means of ventilating modern properties. The revised regulations now require a 6 l/s increase in the minimum airflow through these systems to each bedroom, addressing concerns about insufficient ventilation when bedroom doors are closed.

Natural Ventilation Considerations: While natural ventilation systems remain an option for less airtight homes, with a design air permeability over 5, they are not as energy-efficient. The new regulations aim to balance energy efficiency and ventilation needs.

Simplification of Regulations:

Simplifying Standards: Studies, including the government's 'Ventilation and indoor air quality in new homes' paper, highlighted non-compliance with existing Building Regulations. To address this, a simplification of ventilation standards has been introduced. Continuous Mechanical Extract Ventilation (MEV) and supply & extract ventilation, such as Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR), are recommended for properties with any level of air tightness.

Training Initiatives: Recognising the challenges, we initiated a Domestic Ventilation Installer training course in partnership with BPEC. This course provides a recognised qualification for relevant Competent Person Schemes.

Carrot and Stick Approach: While some argue that the changes haven't gone far enough, the industry has welcomed the approach. The simplified standards make implementation more accessible, but increased ventilation rates require documentation and commissioning proofs to building control.

Conclusion: Staying abreast of these changes is crucial for anyone involved in construction. The adjustments in Approved Document F reflect a commitment to energy efficiency and indoor air quality. As we navigate these changes, Stroma Building Control is here to keep you informed and prepared.

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