EN 17037 ‘Daylight in Buildings’ is not mandatory and so, like any code of practice adopted in the British Standards system, its contents constitute guidance and recommendations only.
However, the more a standard is adopted by and used within industry, the more authority it carries. As expectations increase that projects will demonstrate ‘compliance’ with the standard, meeting its recommendations effectively becomes mandatory.
How is adoption of a standard driven?
Standards can be quoted in regulations, and following the guidance in the standard is then taken as demonstrating compliance with the regulation in question. This is often what drives architects and other design professionals to meet a standard, and name it on drawings and in specifications.
When it comes to EN 17037, the provision of better daylighting in buildings is very much an issue of occupant comfort and wellbeing. Increased adoption could therefore come from a variety of sources. Architects and specifiers might choose to promote it to their clients as part of better building design generally.
In a lot of cases, working to certain standards is a client-driven requirement, like achieving sustainability benchmarks. As awareness of EN 17037 grows, it will likely find its way into assessment schemes like BREEAM or WELL, where credits will be awarded for meeting its guidance.
Sectors such as education and healthcare could also see EN 17037 adopted in government-issued guidance for the design of schools, hospitals and similar buildings. Local education bodies and health authorities would then have the freedom to specify that the standard be adopted.
Is it possible to achieve ‘compliance’ with a standard?
When it is desirable to achieve certain recommendations set out by a code of practice, project drawings or specifications may feature the phrase, “to comply with …” or, “in accordance with …”. However, care must be taken about claiming compliance with a standard or code of practice that is not mandatory.
That’s because the guidance of one part of the document might be met, but the project may not meet recommendations set out elsewhere in the standard.
If a dispute arises and the project is claimed to be ‘compliant’ with the standard, but cannot be shown to meet all of the relevant recommendations, then it may become necessary to justify why certain decisions were taken that did not follow the standard.