Currie & Brown’s response to the Future Homes Standard

The article contains high-level information and a summary of key points of the Future Homes Standard consultation document.

For more information please read the original document here.

A changing era

As the world decarbonises and transitions to green energy, the UK is determined to lead the way in this revolution. Delivering the 2050 net-zero target means largely eliminating emissions from domestic and commercial buildings by 2050. Buildings are the second largest source of emissions after transport.

The new Part L - key notes

Energy-efficient, low-carbon homes will become the new standard. The new Part L document is expected to be released by the end of the year, potentially coming into force during spring 2022. Homes will be expected to produce 31% less CO2e emissions compared to current standards.

The planning of the Future Homes Standard is expected to commence in 2023, and necessary legislation will be introduced in 2024.

Transitional arrangements will now apply to individual homes rather than an entire development, and the transitional period will be one year. This means that new, large-scale developments will need to adjust swiftly to the 2025 Future Homes Standard.

As fabric specifications become tighter, the government response indicates a transition to all-electric mechanical and electrical solutions with no fossil fuels if possible. Post-2025, there should be no gas boilers, and a rise in heat pump installations is expected.

A total of four performance metrics will be introduced for new houses. These will include a primary energy target; a CO2e emissions target; minimum standards for fabric energy efficiency; and minimum standards for fixed building services.

Changes in the Standard Assessment Procedure are expected, along with special provisions for the acknowledgement of airtightness contributions to energy savings, and criteria around natural ventilation thresholds.

For the time being, local authorities retain their ability to request additional requirements to the minimum energy and carbon standards.

The current status of the industry means that the construction sector will need to adjust to Brexit, the current pandemic and the forthcoming regulations. Many larger developments conceptualised today will not materialise until 2024.

Tassos Kougionis, associate director in Currie & Brown’s London office, commented: “A change within Part L has been well overdue. I am pleased to see the government committing to greener and healthier buildings, in line with our climate change commitments. It is important to note that all electric solutions will need to respect the user and be easy to operate and understand, while remaining cost effective. I am looking forward to the government’s next steps, which should focus on improved delivered construction quality, whole-life evaluation and the introduction of data-driven feedback loops.”

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