Published On: Fri, Oct 14th, 2022

What the Part L changes means for the future of glazing

Victoria Brocklesby, Co-Founder and COO of Origin, explores the immediate impact of the Part L changes on the fenestration industry and considers what this means for the future of glazing

Following the introduction of the Part L changes in June of this year – taking the industry one step closer to the Future Homes Standard (2025) – it is clear that there are challenges ahead for the fenestration industry. With the new standard requiring carbon emissions of new properties to be reduced by 31%, many manufacturers are having to re-evaluate their products and examine how they can achieve the ultra-low U-values demanded by the new regulations.  

And let’s be frank – it is a challenge. By their very nature, windows and doors fill gaps in an otherwise seamless wall, so if heat is going to escape from anywhere in a building’s structure, it will be at these points. This makes achieving these new levels of thermal efficiency inherently difficult.  

The current approach

To meet the new Part L regulations, we’ve seen some manufacturers adopt triple glazing for all products as a solution. This undoubtedly helps to meet the reduced U-values and increases thermal efficiency. However, due to the increased amount of glass involved, it’s more expensive – meaning the increased costs are passed onto homeowners. It’s also heavier to install and transport, as well as being weightier for homeowners to operate on a day-to-day basis.  

Other manufacturers challenged themselves to adapt the products to reach the new regulations without altering the functionality, quality, or aesthetic. For example, at Origin, we focused on modifying our products on the inside by insulating critical chambers to improve thermal efficiency – all whilst maintaining the signature look and feel of our products.

The future of glazing

With some manufacturers already having to opt for triple glazing to meet the latest changes in requirements, it’s likely that many will really struggle to meet the Future Homes Standards in 2025. 

One solution that’s been raised is only offering smaller window sizes. Although potentially a new concept for the UK, this isn’t unusual across the world and is commonplace in continental Europe – especially in Portugal, Spain, and the South of France, as they prevent homes from getting too hot (potentially something for the UK to think about given the extreme temperatures we’ve seen this summer). However, this presents challenges when it comes to introducing natural light to a room – something we know is essential for our mental and physical wellbeing. 

There are solutions to this. For example, introducing internal glazing to a home to ensure natural light continues to flow through every room, no matter where it is in a property. However, it will require architects, builders, and installers to become increasingly innovative when it comes to planning and completing projects. 

Another challenge is the increased focus on ventilation, as demonstrated by the recent changes in the Part F regulation. Many in the industry agree that the Part L and Part F regulations contradict each other, arguing that calling on door and window manufacturers and installers to design and install products that are simultaneously more thermally efficient and offer better ventilation is an impossible task. This challenge is only set to grow as the thermal efficiency regulations become more stringent.

As we approach the Future Homes Standard’s ultimate goal of ensuring all new homes are carbon neutral by 2025, it’s crucial that installers liaise with their suppliers to ensure the systems they are used to working with are capable of reaching the new target. This is essential if installers are to continue to confidently recommend products to homeowners. At Origin, we have an in-house R&D team who are already working on meeting the more stringent requirements, but this won’t be the case for everyone.