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PAS 2038 a new BSI retrofit standard just released

Edwards Hart have once again devoted its expertise in energy efficiency retrofit through the input of its Director Professor John Edwards, as a member of the panel that produced PAS 2038, the UK standard for retrofitting non-domestic buildings, published by BSI earlier this month. Professor Edwards, a member of the BSI Retrofit Standards Task Group was the only independent certified historic building expert on the production panel. If you want to retrofit your non-domestic building, this is the standard to follow. Edwards Hart are here to help you and guide you through this standard. We can arrange bespoke in-house training on PAS 2038 to suit your needs through the leading retrofit training provider the Environment Study Centre.

Whilst PAS 2038 is largely a process that sets out the overall approach to be taken, it also expresses detailed requirements on what needs to be done.  It includes specific roles with specific responsibilities and describes the competencies required from individuals performing those roles. There isn’t an equivalent authoritative document that covers this most important subject which relates to around 2 million UK buildings. There currently isn’t a mandatory requirement to comply with it, but as its production was funded by UK Government, then it should come as no surprise to see this as a mandatory requirement in the future or a condition of receiving any government funding. Note that the equivalent document for dwellings is PAS 2035, and for this, there is a mandatory requirement for many government and ECO (Energy Company Obligation fund) funded schemes to comply with it.

The types of buildings coming under PAS 2038 is vast.  This includes offices, shops, factories, and warehouses, but it also includes schools, universities, hotels, restaurants, museums, churches, cinemas, theatres, hospitals, castles, and many other types of buildings that are not used as dwellings. Obviously, with such a wide range of buildings there are many different construction types that will come under PAS 2038, and buildings of vastly different scales. PAS 2038 deals with this challenge by making provisions for these differences. For example, PAS 2038 directs non-domestic buildings which are domestic in size and type of construction along with the type of building services you would get in the dwelling, to follow PAS 2035 and consequently, PAS 2038 does not apply to these buildings. Traditional construction is also differentiated from other construction types and there is some difference in the approach to exceptionally large buildings.

PAS 2038 is intended to accommodate projects of different types and sizes.  It is about retrofit and not replacing like for like and therefore unfortunately not the maintenance and repair work that would improve energy efficiency, but it does state in the side notes that putting the building into good repair must be actioned before retrofit.  However, if an element is being replaced with an equivalent that has an improved thermal performance, then that would come under this document. It acknowledges that energy efficiency retrofit work could come under existing types of programmes of improvements, but also as separate retrofit projects.  If a project is to comply with  PAS 2038, however, it must follow the processes including making sure that all the activities described in the documents are followed and be in accordance with it. This includes having in place individuals undertaking specific roles.

There are three specific lead roles within PAS 2038. The Retrofit Lead Professional is a professional member of the retrofit project team appointed to lead and coordinate the work.  In essence, this person is the project manager and dependent on the main focus of the work, this could be a professional whose expertise lies in building fabric or building services.

The Lead Assessor is a member of the project team who leads the assessment of the existing building. The assessment includes the use of the building, its condition, and its energy performance although the assessment can rely upon documents and information that already exists.

The Lead Designer is a member of a retrofit project team who leads the design and specification of retrofit measures or package of measures.

There are qualification and professional membership requirements. There are also some specifically mentioned issues such as U value calculations, condensation risk assessments, thermal bridging calculations and energy performance where qualifications in such subjects are also required.

Where traditionally constructed buildings (defined as ‘ building construction incorporating vapour permeable materials that both absorb moisture and readily allow its evaporation’) and protected buildings (e.g., a listed building, a building in a conservation area) are concerned there are additional qualification requirements.

Members of the project team undertaking or leading assessments, improvement option evaluations, establishing intended outcomes, preparation of an improvement plan or submitting or facilitating applications for statutory approvals shall also hold an additional qualification which PAS 2038 describes as a Level 3 Award qualification covering the retrofitting of traditional buildings.  We can assume this to be at least a requirement for the Retrofit Lead Professional and the Lead Assessor.

You can obtain this qualification by successfully undertaking a two-day course which is available from the Environment Study Centre. Our Director Professor John Edwards created this course and the qualification in partnership with CITB’s National Construction College and delivers this course online in virtual classroom format and in person at venues across the UK. He uses his knowledge of PAS 2038 and his expertise gathered over his 40 year career, to take you through some good practice, including the use of online tools, which are not within PAS 2038, but will help you develop a most professional and appropriate retrofit.

PAS 2038 also requires members of the project team undertaking or leading the design and specification of retrofit work shall also be accredited or certified in building conservation if they are working on traditionally constructed buildings or protected buildings.

The process of retrofitting a traditionally constructed building or a protected building also involves some additional requirements. This means that the assessment of the building should be carried out in accordance with BS EN 16883: 2017: Conservation of cultural heritage – Guidelines for improving the energy performance of historic buildings. However, PAS 2038 states that a significance analysis should be undertaken and retrofit proposals should be measured against the impact that they have on significance by undertaking heritage impact assessments in accordance with BS7913: 2013: Guide to the conservation of historic buildings. The Environment Study Centre 2-day course. will take you through what’s involved in undertaking a significance analysis and heritage impact assessments.

Whilst great care and expertise may be adopted in the assessment of a building and in the design and development of proposals, this could all be put at risk unless there is a robust approach to ensure that the design and specification is complied with as the work is being implemented on site. PAS 2038 has a more sophisticated approach to quality management compared to PAS 2035, with the requirement for inspection and test plans, but unfortunately, this is only for buildings of over 10,000 square meters. We consider this to be a weakness in PAS 2038 and believe it is necessary for all projects and again in the Environment Study Centre 2-day course. inspection and test plans, as an optimum way of managing quality, will be taught.

PAS 2038 is groundbreaking because there is no other authoritative standard like it for non-domestic UK buildings. If you are involved with non-domestic UK buildings, don’t get left behind and find out as much as you can about it because all buildings will have to improve their energy performance and PAS 2038 is the key government endorsed standard. Contact us for more information and for any training needs.