Lighting designers ask DoE to clarify new regs

Lighting designers are urgently seeking clarification before the introduction of new building regulations which some regard as flawed.

The new Department of the Environment rules, which come into force on 1 July, seek to boost energy efficiency in public buildings. But while welcoming the aim of the changes, lighting designers feel key points need further explanation.

The concern centres on how the word “reasonable” will be interpreted. Lighting Design Partnership director Barry Hannaford, the UK representative of the International Association of Lighting Designers, says a literal “black and white” reading of the new regulations has led to some panic among designers.

“The concern is over whether lighting designers are reasonable in the circumstances – any decent lighting designer should be reasonable, given the effect they are trying to achieve.”

The new regulations apply to all buildings, including hotels and restaurants but excluding dwellings, with artificial lighting covering more than 100m2 of floorspace.

“A five-star restaurant,” says Hannaford, “isn’t going to want 95 per cent of its lighting fluorescent”, as the regulations appear to require.

Hannaford says that if the DoE doesn’t clarify the position, the regulations could become either a meaningless piece of paper everyone ignores or lighting designers “won’t be able to sleep at night” worrying over what is reasonable.

Karl Pike, secretary of the lighting division at the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), is to meet DoE officials tomorrow to develop “some latitude” for designers to work within.

“I can understand designers’ concerns that the rules are too prescriptive,” says Pike. “The DoE has been sympathetic and I hope the problem can be resolved.”

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