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Decision on Part L core to future of efficient commercial buildings

The uncertainty still hanging over Part L is sparking outcries throughout much of the construction industry, says Jerry Studden

An ever-moving feast, Part L is causing significant consternation, particularly in the heating industry where the impact of decisions relating to the proposed increase over the 2010 standards will be most keenly felt.

At the time of writing, the Government still hasn't responded to the latest consultation, with the result that implementation of the new regulations - if they do go ahead - will not happen until early 2014.

There is still no indication whether the Government will opt for the 20% or the 11% increase over the 2010 standards.

The former would involve more extensive investment in renewables, the adoption of combined heat and power and perhaps a resurgence in the installation of PV.

However, if the Government opts for the 11% increase effective energy improvements would extend to the replacement of high-efficiency boilers and controls - a move that would no doubt have a positive impact on the commercial and residential UK boiler market. This is especially given that the boiler market remains flat and is expected to continue this way for the foreseeable future.

The need to comply with part L has never been more poignant and ensuring all the options are considered is essential, as each building will have its own set of requirements for limiting heat gains and losses.

New condensing commercial boilers can be a main player in complying with part L (b) (i), (ii), (iii) requirements, and upgrading a heating system still remains one of the most cost-effective measure for businesses to implement. Particularly as, according to a survey from E.ON, inefficient buildings are costing SMEs almost £8bn a year and, with 4.8m SMEs accounting for 99% of UK businesses, this is undoubtedly an urgent area to tackle.

This makes it an area of vast potential for the heating industry, which is why the Government is being urged to make the announcement regarding Part L as soon as possible.

Furthermore, investment in both training and new product development has faltered, with the industry on tenterhooks to see whether this huge potential market will come to fruition.

Should the 11% change be passed, the correct implementation and use of controls, as well as commissioning, should play a major role in upgrades of heating systems within commercial buildings.

In the short term, it's unlikely and impractical for commercial businesses to abandon traditional HVAC systems in favour of a fully renewable solution.

The transition should be steady and considered, with HVAC remaining a serious consideration for older offices with outdated heating and hot water systems.

The conservation of fuel and power will continue to be at the heart of efficient buildings and as an industry we need to make sure that we are educating and installing all the right elements for that particular building.

The sands will shift to accommodate Part L but we need to know when and what those changes are now so that we, as boiler manufacturers, can maximise the full potential of the changes.

New commercial boiler banks on Alpha success
Alpha Heating Innovation has launched a commercial boiler range offering flexibility and output for the UK non-domestic heating sector.

The ARES Tec range comprises nine boilers covering outputs from 200-900kW and incorporates self-contained modules to provide a greater transfer of heat. Each has its own down-firing pre-mix burner, fan, ignition and safety controls to assist in the changing demands of buildings such as hotels, leisure centres, apartment blocks, hospitals and nursing homes.

An integrated boiler cascade manager spreads the load evenly between heat modules, optimising the ever-changing demands on the boiler, common within larger buildings, this helps to provide a rapid warm-up time in response to multiple requests. Independently if demand falls low enough, the boiler can run on the minimum output of a single module, minimising energy use.

To ensure equal daily rotation and even running times, the boiler cascade manager alternates the ignition of the modules every 24 hours. In addition, the ARES Tec boiler features a number of other benefits to ensure maximum energy efficiency; the heat exchangers include serpentine waterways to optimise heat transfer within the system, and a cast pin design that increases surface area to aid in boiler proficiency. Seamless installation is assisted by three flueing positions (rear or either side) and the ability to reverse the hydraulic and gas connections (200-350kW models) from right to left.

Alpha offers a range of pre-assembled accessory kits that complement the boiler to take the headache out of the installation process.

The control panel is hidden in a pneumatically controlled housing that helps prevent unwanted interference with settings. The principal E8 thermo controller incorporates a series of sensors that maintain the efficiency of the boiler and provide full diagnostic control of each module, it also controls the timings and individual circuit temperatures. An external sensor for weather compensation comes as standard to provide even more system efficiencies.
8 July 2013

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