UK changes key housing standard and launches consultation

The UK Government is hoping to encourage more homes and buildings to adopt clean energy technology as part of its changes to the Future Homes Standard and a new consultation.

The standard is set to cut carbon emissions in new homes by almost a third, while also replacing old domestic energy systems with up to date innovations including air source heat pumps, “cutting-edge” solar panels and improved energy efficiency measures.

A consultation on stronger building regulations has also been launched that will pave the way for the Future Homes Standard, which is set to come into force in 2020.

Views are being sought on how changes to building regulations can drive down the carbon footprint of homes built after 2025, including changes to the ventilation and efficiency requirements as well as the role of councils in getting the best energy standards from developers, with the consultation running until January 2020.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published the consultation on changes to Part L of the Future Homes Standard, with two options for increasing energy efficiency standards in new-build homes outlined and set to come into effect from 2025.

Option one would deliver a 20 per cent reduction in carbon emissions through “very high” fabric standards, while option two would deliver a 31 per cent reduction based on both better fabric standards and carbon-saving technology such as solar PV, the consultation explains.

In the consultation, the ministry said option two is its preferred option as “it would deliver more carbon savings and result in lower bills for the householder.”

The document suggests that under option two, an additional £4,847 would be added to the build-cost of a new home, with savings on energy bills of £257 a year. This drops for flats to £2,256 per flat, with carbon savings also dropping to 22 per cent.

This is in comparison to an additional £2,557 for the build-cost of a new home savings of £59 a year on energy bills under option one.

Developers will need to ensure they are “doing their bit” to tackle the threat of climate change by using new technologies, claims the Government.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick believes developers should be working to protect the environment and give the next generation beautiful, environmentally friendly homes that local communities can support.

“Building new homes isn’t just about bricks and mortar,” he said while unveiling the new standard.

“I am requiring carbon emissions are cut by up to 80% from 2025 for all new homes and have published a National Design Guide, setting out simply what we expect from new development.”

John Alker, Director of Policy and Places at UKGBC, claims that the 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.

“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,” he said.

“It is encouraging to see 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.

“There is much work still to do on the detail of these announcements, and there are further challenges ahead associated with addressing the performance gap, unregulated energy and the embodied carbon of new developments. But at long last it appears as though we are heading in the right direction.”

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