Future Homes Standard explained

In response to the consultation on the Future Homes Standard, the government has announced a series of ambitious new targets for a green building revolution that will see all new builds constructed to be highly energy efficient and with low-carbon heating. Here, we take a look at the details of the plan. 

The introduction of the Future Homes Standard is designed to achieve a considerable improvement in energy efficiency of new homes. In the government’s response to the consultation on proposed changes to the Building Regulations (parts L and F),  it sets out targets to ensure that from 2025, new homes built to the Future Homes Standard will have carbon dioxide emissions 75-80% lower than those built to current regulations, and will be ‘zero carbon ready’. 

Heat pump future

A low carbon heating system will be integral to the specification of the Future Homes Standard, and the government anticipates that heat pumps will become the primary heating technology for new homes. 

This means that new homes will not be built with fossil fuel heating, such as a natural gas boiler, from 2025. To ensure industry is ready to meet the new standards on time, new homes will be expected to produce 31% lower carbon emissions by June 2022. 

The effect of building ‘zero-carbon ready’ homes means no further energy efficiency retrofit work will be necessary to enable them to become zero-carbon as the electricity grid continues to decarbonise. These homes will be future-proofed with low carbon heating and high levels of energy efficiency.

New normal

Low carbon homes are expected to become the norm because it is significantly cheaper and easier to install energy efficiency and low carbon heating measures when homes are built, rather than retrofitting them afterwards. This will require a significant uplift to the fabric standards of homes and ensuring the availability of the supply chains and technology options for low carbon heat. 

Existing homes will also be subject to higher standards.  Property owners who undertake an extension will find they need to incorporate works that make homes warmer and reduce bills. There will be a requirement for replacements and repairs to be more energy efficient, including building services such as heat pumps and cooling systems.

  

Fabric first 

A fabric-first approach will be at the heart of new build homes, and a package of performance metrics will apply, including the Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard. By delivering carbon reductions through the fabric and building services in a home, the Future Homes Standard will ensure new homes have a smaller carbon footprint than before. 

Government plans also include measures to tackle ventilation and indoor air quality monitoring in buildings like offices and gyms, and overheating in residential buildings. 

There will be transitional arrangements in place to provide all developers with certainty about the standards they are building to. These will last for one year and apply to individual homes, rather than an entire development. A full technical specification for the Future Homes Standard will be consulted on in 2023, with an introduction of the necessary legislation in 2024, ahead of implementation in 2025.

Industry response

The government’s consultation response has been generally welcomed by the heating industry.  Mark Wilkins, training and technologies director at Vaillant, says he is especially pleased to see the transitional arrangement requiring new homes to produce 31% less CO2 prior to the implementation of the Future Homes Standard in 2025.

“Although the existing housing stock is diverse and will therefore require different types of low carbon solutions, there is no better time to build zero-carbon ready homes. Future proofing all homes with low carbon, low temperature heating systems sets the foundations for savings, but there needs to be a heat source agnostic approach.”

Kensa Group CEO, Simon Lomax, adds: “Although we would always ask the government to be prompter and more ambitious, we generally support the response which makes clear that heat pumps are expected to become the default heating choice in new build dwellings from 2025.”

Speaking for the CIPHE, CEO Kevin Wellman comments: “The CIPHE welcomes the drive for energy efficient buildings and the path to net zero carbon emissions. It is vital that the industry makes their views heard on the path to net zero. Installers are at the forefront of environmental change and need to be involved in the process. 

“The CIPHE is urging all those with an interest in higher performance targets for non-domestic buildings to take part in the Future Buildings Standard consultation, before it closes on 13th April.”

Readers wishing to contribute to the Future Buildings Standard consultation  can do so using the link below. 

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/the-future-buildings-standard

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