October 5 2022

Complete HR guide: The 2022 Building Regs changes

In the race to net zero, the new 2022 Building Regs changes have come into place to help ensure low carbon construction that’s fit for the future. Here, in our complete guide to the recent changes, we break them down and tackle some of the HR challenges they may bring.

What are the 2022 Building Regs changes?

The recent changes to Building Regulations are interim measures, part of the roadmap towards the government’s Future Homes Standard and Future Buildings Standard–planned for 2025.

That 2025 standard will see all new builds being capable of being net zero in terms of operational carbon when the grid decarbonises. Decarbonisation is the elimination of our reliance on fossil fuels and switching to cleaner sources of power, such as electric. 

The UK Government has set the goal of grid decarbonisation for 2035. In the meantime, the 2022 Building Regs changes will bring us one step closer to the 2025 building standard changes.

For clarity, we’ve listed the stages to full decarbonisation below:

  • 2022 Building Regs changes – paving the way for net zero
  • 2025 Future Homes Standard and Future Buildings Standard
  • 2035 full decarbonisation of our energy grid and a reliance on renewable sources of energy
  • 2050 Net Zero

Who is affected?

Existing buildings

With existing buildings, the 2022 Building Regs changes come into play when additional work is being carried out. For example, retrofitting or adding an extension.

The construction industry is already planning ways to maximise the efficiency of extensions. This could include installing a low-carbon heating system or doors with a low U-value. This reduces heat loss from the building, making it better insulated.

New builds

When embarking on new builds, it’s essential to plan the project carefully from the outset. The design must be created in line with the 2022 Building Regs changes to ensure the building is capable of zero carbon emissions. 

Breaking it down: The 2022 Building Regs changes in 7 key points

We’ve highlighted 7 major points from the 2022 Building Regs changes. Full details can be found on the UK government website.

1. 30% reduction of carbon emissions in new builds

A simple way of reducing building CO2 emissions is by installing an energy-efficient heating system.

Consider one that can be paired with home renewables, like solar panels. Alternatively, electric radiators are a popular, convenient, and sustainable choice.

2. 27% cut on carbon emissions in commercial buildings

Use of low carbon materials such as bricks, cement, and cladding will ensure maximum efficiency in insulation.

 3. preventing overheating in new builds

The new approved Document O introduces glazing limits in new-build homes, care homes, schools and student accommodation to reduce unwanted solar gain. This will help reduce overheating.

4. Capping maximum flow temperatures

New and replacement heating systems in both domestic and non-domestic builds must have a maximum flow temperature of 55°C.

5. Ventilation improvements

Background trickle vents have been recommended for non-domestic buildings along with a new requirement for CO2 monitors in all offices.

6. Reducing reliance on heating systems with FEES–Fabric energy efficient standard

Through better insulation, properties will run on a higher level of energy efficiency. Builds will move away from reliance on heating systems and move towards fabric first heat retention.

7. Electrical vehicle charging

The new approved document S requires all domestic new builds to have the preparatory work completed for future installation of an electric vehicle charging point.

Extensive guidance on ways to meet the building regulations can be found in the Approved Documents area on the GOV.UK website.

What do these 2022 Building Regs changes mean for those working in the industry?

The 2022 Building Regs changes will have far-reaching consequences over and above the obvious changes in building compliance.

As the construction sector moves towards more energy efficient ways to build, this will fundamentally change the way we work and the materials the industry uses.

Products are likely to become more expensive, lead times longer, and the planning process more complex.

This will have implications for the entire construction team, from planning and design to onsite execution.

New building designs will drive the changes

The overarching aim of these 2022 Building Regs changes is to replace reliance on heating systems with fabric-first heat retention. That means that structural engineers, architects, and designers will see the emergence of building designs that are more energy efficient. 

In homes of the future, low carbon materials such as cement, bricks and cladding could do the heavy lifting. This will pave the way for the 2025 boiler ban.

With this critical shift to a material-led design, HR will either be looking for talent that can respond to this new demand or training existing talent to meet these new challenges.

Onsite operations will adapt to implement new designs

Site workers will have to install renewable energy resources for electricity and heating, which may well bring up a need for new skills.

This may lead HR departments to increase their learning and development budgets to allow for extra training and upskilling of their existing workforce.

It could be challenging, finding the time for extra training, in an industry which is already under pressure from a lack of skilled labour and project delays.

Finding new additional workers would be a solution, but let’s not forget that the labour market is already tight. Organisations may want to take these challenges into consideration and perhaps review additional ways to tackle the labour shortage.

For example, up-scaling your benefits package can help attract and keep skilled workers. Organisations can also use tech to tackle labour shortages

Upgrading your HR stack is just one way to use tech more efficiently. Streamlining your recruitment process in this way frees up time for HR to focus on training existing employees or exploring creative ways to improve employee retention.

Far-reaching changes require even better collaboration

Planning ahead will be key in an organisation’s ability to successfully meet these responsibilities. It will demand an even greater emphasis on planning in the pre-construction phase. This will include guidance from HR and leaders when it comes to communication and coordination.

Ideally, architects, SAP assessors, and building control professionals should collaborate from the outset of any project. And throughout the construction phase.

Consider ways to collaborate within the supply chain, so everyone reaps the benefits.

This will allow organisations to model the energy footprint of each new house and lock in compliance from start to finish.

It’s important to remember that changes require a period of adaptation and teething periods can occur. For this reason, employee feedback is essential. Encourage input from those onsite who can identify problems and solutions first hand.

New techniques mean updated safety requirements

With new regulations, new systems and different materials, new health and safety risks will arise. Leaders and project managers will need extra training to meet these new safety requirements.

It therefore makes sense to consider how you can achieve this. Ideas include mentoring, educational courses, and job shadowing.

Another issue to consider is that these new Building Regs may contribute to over working, at least until workers have adapted to the changes.

Changes create uncertainty, and that can lead to stress

Over working can negatively affect the mental health of your workers. This directly relates to onsite safety because anxiety and exhaustion all contribute to increased safety risks.

Anxiety is already high among construction employees due to labour shortages and project delays. In addition to this, the changes in Building Regs could cause additional stress. This could affect employee wellbeing and ultimately your organisation’s bottom line.

In 2020, the National Building Specification found that mental health resulted in 70 million sick days in construction. This cost businesses in the sector a whopping £70 -£100 billion. So it’s definitely worth looking at ways to safeguard your workforce and your business.

Safeguarding the environment and your employees

The drive to attain a carbon free future concerns us all. It will take teamwork, creative solutions, the upskilling of existing employees and the sourcing of new talent.

However, a successful implementation of this road map to net zero shouldn’t neglect employee wellbeing. Because that would be counterproductive. 

The financial cost of accidents and ill health to the construction industry is £16 billion a year. That was in 2020, and we want to see that figure go down, not up.

Organisations must do their part to safeguard the environment and their employees. We know that financial anxiety is a major factor in poor mental health. 

By finding creative solutions to ease financial stress, organisations can improve employee wellbeing because workers are less likely to be distracted, which can lead to safety issues.

Boost employee wellbeing and safety

To help ease financial stress, we’ve built an app that allows construction employees to access their money on their schedule. 

On-demand pay from Openwage gives employees greater financial flexibility by instantly accessing the money they’ve earned. This means that employees can get paid before their scheduled payday to help ease expenses that crop up throughout the month.

Employees can access up to 50% of their gross earned salary any time, for a low, transparent fee.

For employers, there’s no cost to roll out this employee benefit. With no impact on company cash flow or payroll, Openwage is the new way to pay employees that’s win-win.

To learn more about Openwage and how we can quickly and easily roll-out this benefit to your employees, request a demo today.