The blindingly obvious in Approved Document O
It could be said that the Government’s new Approved Document O draws parallels with the fairy tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, where the little boy (the Government – OK, the Government as a little boy is perhaps hard to visualise, but bear with me) finally points out what everybody knows but no-one wants to admit due to pluralistic ignorance. In this case, the observation is namely that overheating in buildings caused by solar heat gain - in this case specifically, residential buildings - is a major threat to both us humans, the climate and the planet as a whole.
Whilst the industry strives to deliver on reasonable focused targets, we have to ask ourselves, “Is all this talk of ‘levelling up’, ‘building back better’ and ‘net zero’ just paying lip service to solving the problems we all know already exist and which are, for the most part, simply ignored?”
Will Approved Document O Work?
Are the Government’s strategies to get there really going to be enforced? The Government is clearly identifying those responsible for building works as “including agents, designers (eg architects and consulting engineers), builders, installers and the building owner”, so this is a good start. We now know who the real influencers are and therefore just who’s responsible.
So where do we go from here? They say, “A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step” and the Government’s new regulation on overheating in Residential Buildings is certainly also a good first step in the right direction - but it needs to go so much further.
I personally don’t know anyone who’d disagree with the need to reach all the targets the Government has set us, but you may ask, in the interest of levelling up, shouldn’t there be wider consultation amongst the experts like the UK’s top housebuilding firms or various trade associations representing their members’ interests. In actual fact, we’ve seen the terrible results of when this happened with external cladding and trade associations, test lab fire testing and performance, haven’t we?
It goes without saying that Covid has challenged the residential building sector. Any new legislation, rules or guidance that need to be adopted quickly could pose problems, but actually the Government have kept it reasonably simple and straightforward with this one new bit of the regulations. Okay, I grant you that at the moment it’s a bit of a blunt instrument and it can certainly do with a little sharpening up, but it’s still a good ‘first step’.
Regulations are well intentioned after all. Who can argue with the latest increased fire regulations for low and high rise, residential buildings? Similarly, the latest overheating in residential buildings regulation, may not be a work of art but it has certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons if only because it states what is blindingly obvious. BTW the new update is about to come into effect in June 2022.
It’s called Approved Document O Regulation 40B
The goals of the new regulation are to stop occupants cooking, to stop us simply cranking up the air-con as the planet heats up and to stop us burning up energy with fans and air conditioning which draw us further away from net zero.
Reducing Solar Gain
Okay, so it’s not perfect. They haven’t tackled the popular myths that so-called ‘solar glasses’ solve all the problems for example – (remember the melting cars in the now officially designated high risk areas of London?) - but as I said this is a first step, a slightly blunt instrument and I’m looking to see it sharpened up. Fortunately, MicroLouvre’s laboratory proven solutions for Approved Document O don’t need sharpening. Our solutions are so ‘sharp’ we remove the need for a grindstone from all those people responsible for our residential buildings.
Watch this space for more comment and evidence on what this new regulation actually means and, importantly, all the solutions.
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