Consultation to usher in “world leading” energy efficiency in UK homes

As expected, the Government has announced a consultation on the Future Homes Standard, focusing on two areas of building regulations that govern energy efficiency in new homes.

As our article outlining a review of Approved Document L explained, the Government’s ambition to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and remove fossil-fuel based heating from new homes entirely from 2025 has reached the critical consultation phase.

As well as looking at uplifting energy standards via Part L, the Government is simultaneously consulting on changes to Part F, focussing on ventilation, as well as clarifying the role of planning authorities in setting future energy standards.

Two options proposed for greater energy efficiency in new homes

The Government’s consultation document describes two options for uplifting energy standards and requirements, with Option Two indicated as their preferred choice:

  • Option One: Achieve a 20% reduction in carbon emissions compared to the current standard for an average home. The Government anticipates this could be delivered by very high fabric standards (typically with triple glazing and minimal heat loss from walls, ceilings and roofs).
  • Option Two: Achieve a 31% reduction in carbon emissions compared to the current standard. It’s anticipated this could be delivered based on the installation of carbon-saving technology such as photovoltaic (solar) panels and better fabric standards, though not as high as in Option One (typically double not triple glazing).

In preferring Option Two, the Government writes: “It would deliver more carbon savings and result in lower bills for the householder but has higher build costs. We also expect that it would help to prepare supply chains for heat pumps and increase the number of trained installers.”

Bringing energy efficiency regulations into one document

By also consulting on at the same time the impact of airtightness via Part F (Ventilation) of the Building Regulations, the Government is aiming to simplify energy efficiency regulation in new homes. They will incorporate the technical requirements of the Compliance Guides for Parts L and F into the Approved Documents and restructure the suite of guidance for new home energy efficiency into a single document.

More stringent transitional arrangements being proposed

While transitional arrangements are standard for changes in Building Regulations, the Government is proposing rules that will impact developments built over longer periods of time.

At present, work can start on a development and last for several years, and all units on that development only need to comply with the energy efficiency standards in place when work first started. It argues that new energy efficient standards should be applied immediately to all buildings where work has not commenced “within a reasonable period”, regardless of whether buildings in the same development are part or fully constructed and comply with previous standards. This could lead to a development where different phases over time have different energy efficiency requirements.

  • Read our assessment of policies driving the Government’s review of Part L
  • The consultation will last for at least 14 weeks until 10th January 2020. More information can be found on the Government website

Every care was taken to ensure the information in this article was correct at the time of publication.

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