What Does Part Z Mean for Building Regulations?


In 2022, members of the building industry proposed an amendment to the building regulations that became known as Part Z. Part Z would put a cap on embodied carbon emissions during construction work and would have a significant impact on construction projects larger than 1,000m2 or building schemes involving more than 10 homes. As of this writing, Part Z has not yet been implemented although the building industry continues to lobby for it to become a permanent part of UK building regulations.

What Part Z Proposes

Part Z would place a cap on embodied carbon emissions related to construction projects. But before you can understand the regulatory implications of Part Z, you first need to know what an embodied carbon emission is.

Embodied carbon emissions are defined as those carbon emissions generated during the production of building materials, their transport to the work site, and carbon emissions generated during construction of the building.

Embodied carbon emissions vary from whole life carbon emissions which include all of the embodied carbon emissions plus emissions generated during the life of the building, its demolition and the removal of all debris related to the demolition.

Part Z then is the building industry rebuttal to a government proposal that would cap whole life emissions. A proposal building industry insiders fear would place an untenable regulatory burden on construction companies. Part Z proposes capping embodied carbon emissions on all major construction projects and in a phased manner which industry leaders believe is more realistic and will promote greater industry buy-in.

Why Hasn’t Part Z Been Implemented?

It’s difficult to say. It may be lawmaker reluctance to entertain proposals that originate outside the halls of parliament. Or it could be because many lawmakers believe Part Z’s phased approach to embodied carbon is just a way to let builders off the hook.

Whatever the reason for the delay, the problem is real and if the UK is to achieve Net Zero, something will need to be done to get a handle on embodied carbon emissions which last year topped 40 million tonnes, more than shipping and aviation combined.

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