Regulations and Standards

The Leeds Sustainability Institute (LSI) has a history of undertaking cutting-edge research that results in findings that challenge existing regulations or practices. This has led to the creation of new standards and enhancements to existing building regulations.

Below are case studies related to this research and access to all our research on behaviour change.

Regulations and standards case studies

The gold standard for measuring the Heat Transfer Coefficient in buildings

The electric 'co heating' test, which is in the process of being developed into an international CEN standard and has been used by other institutions (both in the UK and abroad) as the reference test for assessing the aggregate performance of the building fabric in both new and existing dwellings. The electric coheating test has also been used to validate other building fabric thermal performance methodologies and is forming the basis of future research into validating building fabric thermal performance through the use of smart meter data. A quasi-steady state test method undertaken on an unoccupied dwelling to quantify the Heat Transfer Coefficient (HTC) of the dwelling in W/K. Currently in the process of being converted into a CEN standard.

Research outputs

Achieving air tightness in practice

This Department of Communities and Local Government-funded project considered the overall conclusions and key messages obtained through design assessments, construction observations, discussions with developers and pressurisation test results. The project analysed the airtightness performance of current UK housing, the implementation and impact of current and future legislation and identified potential areas for future work.  Following an initial literature review, the project adopted an action research methodology that involved the research team working very closely with five developers to investigate the practical design and construction issues that arise in making improvements to the airtightness of speculatively built mainstream housing. Two construction types were represented in the project, masonry cavity and steel frame.  The project highlighted a number of issues that need to be considered when constructing dwellings to meet a particular airtightness target. Suggesting that certain construction types appear to be intrinsically more airtight than others, complexity of the design can have a significant effect on airtightness, certain approaches to improving airtightness are likely to be both more successful and more robust than others and that achieving consistently high levels of airtightness in dwellings may prove difficult within existing design and construction cultures.

Research outputs

Standardising how to measure the efficiency of buildings

Based upon our international reputation associated with undertaking electric coheating tests, Professor David Johnston was invited to become an expert member of the British Standards Institution B/540/9 and CEN Technical Committee 89 Working Group 13 Task Group 5. As part of his CEN Working Group role, he has been working with European colleagues to develop a new European (CEN) standard based upon the Whole House Heat Loss Test Method (Coheating) developed at Leeds Beckett University. The new standard is entitled 'Thermal insulation – Construction products, building elements and structures – In-situ measurement of thermal performance – Testing of completed buildings Part 1: Data Collection'.

Research outputs

For more information about this project please contact us.

Reliable building energy performance characterisation based on full-scale dynamic measurement

After building a strong reputation in building performance characterisation, the Centre for the Build Environment (CeBE) at Leeds Beckett University were invited to participate in the International Energy Agency Annex 58. The ultimate goal of the Annex is to develop the necessary knowledge, tools and networks to achieve reliable in situ dynamic testing and data analysis methods that can be used to characterise the actual energy performance of building components and whole buildings.

Research outputs

Early investigations into the effectiveness of retrofits

The overall objective of this project was to define a coherent conceptual and analytical framework within which the technical requirements for the next three reviews of Part L can be debated and decided. The key objective of the project was to chart a possible course specifically for fabric performance out to 2013 and later. The L1 project was carried out for the ODPM Building Regulations Division under the Building Operational Performance Framework by the FMNectar consortium.

Research outputs

Investigation routes to achieve higher performing homes

The project was undertaken at the request of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation with the prime intention of instigating debate over future developments in energy efficiency aspects of the Building Regulations in the UK. The report presents a critical review of current regulations, mainly with respect to space heating and the performance of the thermal envelope. The performance of the thermal envelope, as built, is a major determinant of overall environmental impact, with implications that extend further into the future than any other physical aspect of the dwelling. While energy use and carbon emissions for lighting and appliances will account for a progressively larger proportion of the domestic sector's total over the next 20 years, we do not consider that the Building Regulations are an appropriate tool to deal with these categories of end-use.

The project report identified a range of technical, regulatory and policy developments which should be pursued in order to ensure a significant reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from buildings in the 21st century. Although it is focused on dwellings, much of the discussion is relevant to other building types.

Research outputs

Comprehensive evaluation of an enhanced energy performance home

This project examined whether an energy performance standard similar to the 1995 Swedish regulations could reduce space heating and associated CO2 emissions in new UK dwellings by 80% compared with those built to the then current standards, while guaranteeing affordable warmth and dramatically reducing fuel poverty in new housing. Such a standard could in principle form the basis for future revisions to the UK Building. Its implementation would face a number of barriers. The construction industry would need to be convinced that the standard was workable, that costs were proportionate to the objectives and that the risk of building failures and defects was acceptable.

The St Nicholas Court Field Trial was set up in 1999, with funding from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Housing Corporation and from the DETR under the Partners in Innovation Programme, to address these issues. The project sought to comprehensively evaluate the impact of an enhanced energy performance standard in the context of a development of 18, timber-framed houses built at St Nicholas Court for York Housing Association by Wates Construction Ltd.

Research outputs

Early investigations into the effectiveness of retrofits

In the early to mid 1990s the UK Government funded a series of demonstration projects in local authority housing designed to implement a wide range of energy-saving measures which could be incorporated into modernisation programmes. This programme (the Greenhouse Programme) ran from 1991 to 1994 and funded some 183 schemes (over 50,000 dwellings) of which the York project was one. In common with many energy demonstration projects, the York Project had two main aims. The first was to confirm that the application of readily available technology could deliver significant energy benefits within the context of a routine local authority housing modernisation programme. The second was to extract lessons for the operation of future energy-conscious modernisation schemes.

The project consisted of three schemes, which were carried out in the early to mid 90s and monitored over a two-year period. Results indicate that modernisation schemes have a very important part to play in reducing CO2 emissions and that improvements in the region of 50% can be achieved at modest cost using well proven (early 1980s) technology. The possibility of additional improvements are also identified which could see emissions fall by a further 30% to 40%.

Research outputs

Condensation modelling of theoretical and real-world details

The project, ‘Impacts of Improvements to Part L and Robust Construction Details (RCD) on Part C’ was funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government and consisted of a fieldwork element, undertaken by Leeds Metropolitan University, and a modelling element carried out by the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, University College London. The fieldwork consisted of the analysis of design material and site surveys from 16 housing developments constructed to Part L 2002 and adopting the Robust Construction Detail route to compliance. The results of the analysis were used to enable condensation modelling that took into account not only the guidance of robust details but also the way in which construction details were actually designed and, perhaps more importantly, constructed. The modelling element of the project sought to identify the extent to which the ‘as built’ details give rise to a significantly increased condensation risk as compared to the relevant ‘standard’ robust construction details, as defined in the guidance.

Research outputs

Knowledge exchange for low carbon construction

The LowCarb4Real project has been carried out by an interdisciplinary partnership of Leeds Metropolitan University, University College London, Leeds University and the Good Homes Alliance, with funding from the UrbanBuzz Programme. This partnership has been supported by an advisory group of key stakeholders that included representatives from CLG, Taylor Wimpey, Redrow Homes, the Zero Carbon Hub, Construction Skills, National Trust, the Housing Corporation, the Home Builders Federation and the Sustainable Building Association (AECB).

The LowCarb4Real project was designed to develop the knowledge necessary to make low and zero carbon housing a reality, where it matters, 'on the ground'. It sought to set up a knowledge exchange programme based on the lessons from the Stamford Brook housing field trial and the experience of those developers seeking to build beyond current building regulations. The Stamford Brook field trial was an action research project funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) and based around a 700 house development undertaken by Bryant Homes and Redrow Homes, on land owned by the National Trust. The six-year field trial sought to assess, in a comprehensive way, the issues involved in improving the carbon performance of mainstream house building. It has generated an unprecedented amount of learning related to airtightness, envelope integrity and systems performance, at all levels including building physics, dwelling design, site management, workforce training and procurement systems. Given the challenging regulatory targets proposed by government aimed at zero carbon new housing within 10 years, it is crucial that the learning from field trials such as Stamford Brook is captured, refined, contextualised and embedded as thoroughly as possible within the house building industry. The project also seeks to provide a model for industry-based research and knowledge exchange.

Research outputs

Embedding flood protection into regulations

The recent instances of severe flooding in the UK together with predictions on future flooding from the OST Foresight project have given rise to significant interest by Government, financial institutions, insurers, the construction industry and the general public for the need to improve the local flood protection of buildings. This has been driven by the requirement to protect the health and safety of the individuals living and working in affected properties, as well as the need to reduce the economic cost of flooding. The location of developments and buildings and their height above ground and local water levels are planning issues covered in Planning Policy Guidance which encourages development away from areas at risk of flooding. However, there is a level of residual risk for developments in marginal areas and in areas that become at risk as a result of climate change. Accordingly, it is essential that new developments are constructed appropriately to minimise the risk of flooding to occupants and users of buildings.

The flood protection industry, regulators and other stakeholders in the management of flooding are concerned about the lack of detailed knowledge on the resistance and resilience to flood waters of building materials, construction methods and building designs, and also the effective use of flood protection measures. There is a lack of both field performance data and also science-based information on how buildings, walls and floors behave in flood conditions. The use of inappropriate building materials could result in poor performance and in the extreme could affect the structural performance of buildings and the health of occupants. Current guidance on improving the flood resistance of new and extended buildings has, in the main, been developed on the basis of expert opinion and there is now a clear need to enhance our knowledge through scientific analysis. The aim of this project was to identify how existing and new knowledge could be incorporated into the Building Regulations and to produce guidance for new dwellings consistent with Government initiatives and common construction practices. A wide variety of individuals and organisations were consulted and contributed to the final outputs. The role of Leeds Metropolitan University in the project was to provide support to the other team members in terms of specialist knowledge of construction materials, construction forms, construction technology and building regulations. 


Contact the Leeds Sustainability Institute