Building regulations and quality standards

Before buying a house how do I know its energy efficiency?

Introduced with the aim of improving the home buying and selling process, the HIP is a set of documents providing important information about a property, including legal title, energy efficiency and planning permission.

As from December 2007 all homes for sale must provide a Home Information Pack. The HIP includes an Energy Performance Certificate that rates the energy performance of the home and contains advice on how to cut CO2 emissions and fuel bills.

Ask for the best glass and check hENs standards.

Harmonised European Norms

All products manufactured in Europe, including double glazed units, must now comply with the harmonised European Norms (hENs), to ensure European wide technical standards are met. Windows marked with the CE logo are hEN compliant and it is important to check this before purchasing replacement windows. hENs apply to basic float glass, coated glass, toughened glass, laminated glass and energy efficient glass.

Although applying the CE mark is not compulsory in the UK, compliance with hENs standards is. The CE logo is proof of compliance with hENs.

List of hENs standards

BS EN 1096 – covers coated glass (what about EN 673?)
BS EN 1863 – covers heat strengthened soda lime silicate glass
BS EN 12150 – covers thermally toughened soda lime silicate safety glass
BS EN 14449 – covers laminated glass and laminated safety glass
BS EN 1279 – covers insulating glass units

Know everything about new legislation and EPC.

New legislation coming into effect in October 2008 means that homes can no longer be sold without an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The new law applies to homes that are already on the market and those sellers without an EPC will be obliged to withdraw their homes from sale. The EPC gives a building an official energy rating from A to G, with A being the most efficient.
A home’s EPC performance is based on the energy use per metre squared of floor area, energy efficiency based on fuel costs and environmental impact based on carbon dioxide emissions.

The certificate also includes recommendations on ways to improve the home’s energy efficiency and reduce emissions in order to save money and help the environment.. The EPC is prepared by Domestic Energy Assessors or Home Inspectors who are members of Government approved Accreditation and Certification Schemes.

Check thermal performance of my glass windows.

The Window Energy Ratings is a scale designed by the British Fenestration Ratings Council to measure the thermal performance of windows. The Window Energy Ratings (WER) scale runs from A to G, with A being awarded to the most energy efficient windows. The WER take into account the U-Value, the solar heat gain (g value) and the air leakage rate of all the components of the fitted window. The overall performance is therefore dependant on the combined efficiency of the frame, double glazed unit’s components and the air tightness of the finished windows.

Low E windows with the highest performing energy ratings, capable of achieving an A on the WER scale, use a combination of Low E glass, with warm edge space bars and an argon gas filled cavity, all within an hermetically sealed double glazed unit.

Replacing windows and Local Planning Authority.

Most new buildings or major changes to existing buildings need to acquire planning permission. This is separate from building regulations approval which set standards for health and safety.

Normally planning permission is not needed for replacing windows unless your home is a listed building, or you live in a conservation area. Planning permission is also required before replacing windows if you live in a flat. However, if in doubt check with your Local Planning Authority. For planning permission information concerning conservatories visit conservatories and the law.

Glazing installation and compliance with health and safety norms?

Building Regulations are the national standards set out by the government for compliance with health and safety norms in building construction and alterations. Document L of the Building Regulations covers

fuel and power conservation and Document N covers health and safety regulations for glazing.

Meeting the requirements of the Building Regulations are the responsibility of the company carrying out the work. Glazing installation companies registered with FENSA are authorised to issue certificates to prove that work carried out is compliant with all the latest Building Regulations.

Ensure compliance with Building Regulations for my glazing installation.

The Fenestration Self-Assessment scheme (FENSA) was developed by the Glass and Glazing Federation, with government approval, to ensure compliance with updates on Building Regulations. Window

installation companies registered with FENSA are authorised to issue FENSA certificates to prove the work carried out follows the latest Building Regulations.
The FENSA self assessment scheme cannot be applied to commercial premises or new build properties as for these certifications it is necessary to contact the Local Planning Authority.
For a list of FENSA registered suppliers visit

Safety standards used in glazing installations.

Document N of the Building regulations applies specifically to safety standards to be used in glazing installations. For example, under Document N, all glazing between finished floor level and 800mm must be toughened or laminated for safety reasons. A FENSA registered glazing installer will be able to provide full details of the latest Document N requirements.

Building's energy conservation and windows.

The latest Approved Document L, which came into effect in April 2006, covers all aspects of a building’s energy conservation, including its windows. Once again, a FENSA registered installer will ensure that all the latest updates in compliance requirements are met.
The new Document L is divided into four parts:
ADL1A – Conservation of fuel and power in new dwellings
ADL1B – Conservation of fuel and power in existing dwellings
ADL2A – Conservation of fuel and power in new buildings other than dwellings
ADL2B – Conservation of fuel and power in existing building other than dwellings.

Document L for New Build Dwellings (ADL1A)

This document has dramatically changed previous energy compliance requirements. The new energy compliance standard is now the Target Carbon Dioxide Emission Rate – or TER. TER is the minimum energy performance requirement for a new build dwelling. The only way of complying with the TER is to calculate, using approved calculation software, the CO2 emissions for the proposed building as a whole, and to show that the levels for the designed building and final construction meet the required emission target.

Document L ADL1B – Replacement Doors and Windows for Dwellings

The ADL1B requires that one of the three requirements below are met –
1 – a ‘whole window/unit’ should have a U-Value of 2.0 W/m2K. Doors should have a U-Value of 2.2 W/m2K for doors (frame and glass)
2 – a glass ‘centre pane’ should have a U-value of 1.2W/m2K
3 - a Window Energy Rating (WER) of at least band E

Document L – conservatories

Most conservatories do not need to comply with Document L - but Document L does apply to conservatories with a floor area greater than 30m2. These need to attain any one of the following three energy standards:
1 – a ‘whole window/unit’ should have a U-value of 2.0W/m2K. Doors should have a U-Value of 2.2 W/m2K for doors (frame and centre pane)
2 – a glass ‘centre pane’ should have a U-value of 1.2W/m2K
3 - a Window Energy Rating (WER) of at least band E

Document L – Historic Properties

With regards to listed properties and buildings in conservation areas, Document L makes special allowances. The general guidance is that every attempt should be made to improve the energy efficiency provided the work does not prejudice the character of the building or add to its deterioration.

Associated float glass manufacturers: standards, environmental responsibility...

Glass for Europe, formerly known as the GEPVP, is the trade association which acts as the interface between the European Commission and European float glass manufacturers. The association plays a key role in industry lobbying in Brussels - as well as in the standardisation of best practices in glass manufacturing.

Glass for Europe participates, for example, in the international harmonisation of technical and quality standards. One of Glass for Europe’s major concerns is pushing for environmental responsibility in glass manufacturing. Glass for Europe’s members include Pilkington, AGC and Saint Gobain Glass.

Glass manufacturers: how are they environmentally responsible?

Basic sheet or ‘float glass’ manufacturing requires furnace temperatures of up to 1500°C and is thus a highly energy intensive process. Large quantities of raw materials – including silica, soda, magnesium and calcium

are required and the process used for smelting them results in carbon dioxide and other gaseous emissions.

Environmentally responsible glass manufacturers, in association with Glass for Europe, are applying new best practices and technologies to reduce their environmental impact.
Using recycled glass, or ‘cullet’, in the basic float glass making process reduces both raw materials needed and energy consumption. The added environmental benefits of using cullet in manufacturing means that energy consumption and CO2 emissions are reduced – and that less used glass is sent to landfill sites.

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