Emissions to be cut by nearly a third in all new homes in England from 2022
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All new homes in England from 2022 will need to cut CO2 emissions by 31% following the proposed introduction of “interim” uplifted standards to building regulations.
The move is part of the Government’s roadmap towards a new Future Homes Standard in 2025, when all new homes will need to reduce emissions by at least 75% and the use of fossil fuel-based heating will be banned.
An “interim” uplift to standards contained in Approved Document L, Volume 1: Dwellings (Conservation of fuel and power) is expected to come into force from June 2022, with transitional arrangements applying for 1 year.
Unlike most transitional arrangements, they will apply on an individual plot-by-plot basis, rather than the normal site-wide approach.
The moves have been outlined in the Government’s response to the first part of a two-stage consultation launched in October 2019, covering energy efficiency, ventilation and overheating in new homes.
The second stage of the consultation, focused on non-domestic dwellings but considering overheating in new homes, was launched at the same time.
Download the Future Homes Standard roadmap which covers key deadlines to 2025.
New draft Part L includes a range of changes, including interim uplift to standards
The Government resisted strong support for a faster transition to zero-carbon homes by 2050 by maintaining the goal of a 75% reduction in CO2 emissions from all new homes in 2025. The interim uplift to Part L standards will be seen as a stepping stone to the 2025 deadline.
The consultation response sets out a notional building specification for the interim uplift to Part L standards, which the Government describes as a “fabric + technology” mix of insulation/energy efficiency and low-carbon heating technology.
The interim uplift to Part L standards is contained in the 2021 draft Approved Document L, Volume 1: Dwellings, alongside revised Build Quality guidance designed to “close the design-performance” gap, and a Home User guide template to enable residents to make best use of energy efficient features.
It also includes a new standardised compliance report, the Building Regulations England Part L (BREL) report, designed to “ensure a more unified approach by providing building control bodies with the same clear information for every home.”
The draft Part L will see the removal of approved construction details that are out of date and a raft of updates to Compliance Guides, including standardising terminology. It will also become a requirement to specify the Part L version on every EPC.
All new dwellings should be tested for airtightness, including small developments. The Government estimates that only 14% of new-build dwellings are not tested currently. Pulse testing will be an approved airtightness testing method, in addition to the blower door test.
Between now and 2025, further work will be carried out on producing a detailed building specification, especially noting where the consultation raised concerns about fabric standards. There will also be further consideration of future transitional arrangements.
New draft Part F introduces changes to minimum ventilation standards
Alongside the draft Part L, the draft Approved Document Part F also provides changes for minimum ventilation performance standards, and guidance for minimising the ingress of external pollutants in locations where the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010 Schedule 2 limit values are exceeded.
Designers will be allowed to assess ventilation strategies against individual Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) informed by Public Health England’s Indoor Air Quality Guidelines for selected VOCs in the UK15, as an alternative route to using a total volatile organic compound limit.
The draft includes updated guidance across a range of ventilation scenarios in new homes, including airtight homes and natural ventilated dwellings. Noise generated by ventilation systems is likely to be considered in more detail via a review of Part E of the Building Regulations (Resistance to the passage of sound).
Future Buildings Standard consultation turns attention to non-domestic buildings
At the same time as publishing its response to the dwellings side of the consultation, the Government launched the second part covering (in the main) non-domestic dwellings in relations to Part L and Part F.
The new consultation also looks at standards for overheating in new residential buildings, as well as Part L and Part F standards for existing domestic buildings.
The consultation closes on 13 April 2021.
Please Note: Every care was taken to ensure the information in this article was correct at the time of publication. Any written guidance provided does not replace the reader’s professional judgement and any construction project should comply with the relevant building regulations or applicable technical standards. However, for the most up to date LABC Warranty technical guidance please refer to your risk management surveyor and the latest version of the LABC Warranty Technical Manual.