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Ambitious new targets for the Future Homes Standard




As part of the Future Homes Standard interim proposal, Housing Minister Christ Pincher announced new energy efficiency standards targeting all homes and businesses. These standards aim to lower energy consumption and protect the greater environment.

The feedback from the consultation demonstrated an overwhelming consensus that as it stands the FHS does not go far enough. As a result, the government has outlined some key changes to be made to the interim proposal to accelerate the ambitions of the FHS.

The Governments response to the consultation included the following: An expansion of the carbon reduction targets within the Future Homes Standard

  • The new FHS standard will be set at a level whereby no new home will be built with fossil fuel heating such as natural gas boilers.

  • The interim standards will now require all new homes to be highly efficient, require a low carbon heating source and be zero carbon ready by 2025 (a 75% reduction in carbon emissions above the current requirements).

  • Low carbon heating methods will be paired with high levels of energy efficiency design.

  • No new home will require further retrofit work to enable them to become zero-carbon compatible.

  • The technical specification for the FHS will be accelerated with the aim of introducing the new legislation in 2024 ahead of a 2025 implementation.

Changes to Part L (conservation of fuel and power) of the standards for new homes in 2021


  • Heat pumps were highlighted as an integral component for low carbon heating systems in new homes.

  • An increased support to the building industry will facilitate the practical implementation of the FHS by 2025.

  • A 2021 uplift in standards is expected to reduce CO2 emissions in new homes by 31% when compared to current standards.

  • Revisions to the Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard (FEES) will ensure a fabric first approach is at the heart of all new low carbon heating systems – and act as one of four performance metrics for new home.

Changes to part F (ventilation and overheating) of the standards for new homes in 2021


  • Following consultation, the FHS will proceed with the use of performance-based ventilation standards.

  • In line with the consultation proposal, designers will be allowed to assess ventilation strategies against individual volatile organic compounds, as informed by Public Health England’s Indoor Air Quality Guidelines for selected Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

  • The Future Buildings Standard (FBS) will be introduced which includes details on overheating assessment and FEES for domestic dwellings – expected to legislate the introduction of dynamic thermal modelling into the heat assessment of new homes.

The Future Homes Standard and Devolved Nations


Energy efficiency and building regulations are devolved matters and as such the announced changes to the FHS relate primarily to England.


So far Wales have opted to largely follow the FHS in term of Target Emission Rates despite requiring more stringent U-Values. It is yet to be seen whether this will remain the case following the FHS consultation as proposed Building Regulations in Wales remain in public consultation until March 2021.


Scotland have issued their own New Build Heat Standard (NBHS) which is currently under consultation. The NBHS is planned for implementation in 2024 and as such aims for all homes to achieve Net Zero emissions one year ahead of the FHS.

Summary


Following the consultation, it is clear that the UK government are looking to answer the pressure for a more ambitious standard. The new interim standard looks to fast track some of these ambitions, however, it is yet to be seen whether the industry is suitably equipped to keep pace with the short timescale of these demands. Despite this, it’s encouraging to see a proactive response taken to reducing the carbon emissions from the built environment. A transition away from fossil fuels combined with a fabric first approach to design are essential for achieving the UK’s NetZero targets moving forward.



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