‘A significant improvement’: Government unveils Future Homes vision

Triple glazing, buildings fabrics that limit heat loss, low-carbon heating systems and onsite generation assets will likely be mandatory requirements for new homes, after the Government unveiled its vision for a Future Homes Standard (FHS).

‘A significant improvement’: Government unveils Future Homes vision

The proposals are set to come into force at the end of 2020

In March, the former Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a drive to decarbonise future homes built in the UK. The plan focused on banning fossil fuel heating systems in new homes by 2025 as part of an envisioned target to reduce the carbon intensity of new builds by 80%.

This week, the Government has launched a consultation on a new Future Homes Standard (FHS) that will be introduced in 2025 to create “world-leading energy efficiency standards”. Interim regulations for the Future Homes Standard will be introduced from 2020. The consultation will shape building regulations that will come into by the end of 2020.

The Government has proposed that every new home should “typically have triple glazing and standards for walls, floors and roofs that significantly limit any heat loss”. Additional carbon-saving methods could also be delivered through heat pumps, heat networks and direct electric heating.

The FHS form the policy proposals for Part L and Part F of Building Regulations and include measures that would result in emissions reductions of between 20 and 31% for new build homes, but the Government prefers the more ambitious of the two targets.

The current consultation is open until 10 January 2020.

Significant improvement

Commenting on the launch of the consultation, the UK Green Building Council’s director of policy and places John Alker said: “With the UK now legally bound to deliver net-zero carbon emissions across the economy by 2050, as a nation we can no longer avoid the crucial role that new homes play in helping to meet this target. This announcement sets out a new and extremely welcome level of ambition from the Government, which should see a significant improvement in carbon reductions from new homes in 2020, and important clarity on further improvement in 2025.

“It is also encouraging to see a recognition from Government of the importance of clarity for businesses in the construction sector. By setting out a ‘roadmap’ towards the Future Homes Standard in 2025, this should provide confidence in the direction of travel. Many in the industry are still scarred by the scrapping of the Code for Sustainable Homes and Zero Carbon Homes policy in 2015, so Government must learn lessons from that, and be absolutely rock solid in its commitment to this agenda…at long last, it appears as though we are heading in the right direction.”

Speaking at a session of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee earlier in the year, the group chief executive of Barratt Developments, David Thomas, and the group planning and strategic land director at Persimmon, Peter Jordan, were quizzed on current new-build standards.

MPs questioned why major housebuilders were still building to 2006 and 2010 energy efficiency standards and not fresh regulations – and how standards were actually assessed once the homes were built.

Thomas said that 40% of sites were built to 2013 standards on energy efficiency with 60% ‘upgraded’ – with the majority of properties receiving an EPC Rating B – and Permission’s Jordan said 53% of its new-build sites met the standard.

Matt Mace

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