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Our Guide to the UK Future Homes Standard

In this article we’ll explore what the Future Homes Standard actually is and how it will help cut down on emissions.
Green News
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The Future Homes Standard is a set of rules linked to energy efficiency, that will complement the UK’s Building Regulations. It comes into effect in the UK in 2025 and will significantly reduce carbon emissions from any new build homes. 

👉 In this article we’ll explore what the Future Homes Standard actually entails and how it will help cut down on emissions in the UK.

What is the UK’s Future Homes Standard? 🏠

The Future Homes Standard was announced by the UK Government in 2021 following a consultation period that ran from 2019 to 2020. The consultation period looked at Part L (conservation of fuel and power) and part F (means of ventilation) of the UK Building Regulations 2010. The purpose of the consultation was to consider ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy usage of any new homes constructed after 2025. 

In early 2021, the UK Government issued its 114 page response to the consultation and announced that new homes built after 2025 in the UK would need to be zero-carbon ready and that carbon emissions from new homes would need to be 75% to 80% lower than those built to current standards. 

The Future Homes Standard (renamed the Future Homes and Building Standard) will require changes to the UK’s Building Regulations in order to meet the UK’s target of at least a 75% reduction in carbon emissions for any new homes. The new rules will come into effect from 2025 and mean that new homes will have to be built with low carbon heating solutions such as heat pumps. 

Existing homes undergoing home improvements will also be affected, though this will only be in the situation where the homeowner is building an extension or making thermal upgrades. 

👉 The UK Building Regulations are statutory instruments or regulations that set standards for building in the UK and have the purpose of ensuring a minimum health, safety and standard of living for housing. Going forward, they will increasingly ensure that buildings in the UK meet a minimum standard in terms of emissions. 

house under construction

What's the motivation behind the Future Homes Standards?

According to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy “heating and power make up 40% of the UK’s total energy use” and 22% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Therefore, it’s essential that if the UK Government is going to be able to reach its net-zero emissions target by 2050, it will have to address carbon emissions from homes across the UK.

By introducing measures such as improved heating and ventilation standards, alongside enhanced material requirements, the Future Homes Standard will make an important contribution to the overall reduction in carbon emissions. 

person wearing hard hat at construction site

Timeline for the implementation of the Future Homes Standard

2022 - Buildings Regulations changes

To help pave the way for the Future Home Standards introduction, the UK Government introduced interim uplift regulations which made changes to the existing Building Regulations. These came into force in June 2022 and require new homes to produce 31% less carbon, and new non-domestic buildings to deliver carbon emission savings of 27%. This will be achieved through a combination of low carbon heating and increased materials standards. 

2023 - second consultation

A second consultation period will run from 2023, where the Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) will consider the technical specification required with regards to existing homes and home renovations. This is expected to include requirements on building materials and low carbon heating requirements.

2024 - legislation

Following on from the consultation period in 2023, the UK Government plans to publish the Future Homes and Buildings Standards in 2024, ensuring that it is enacted into legislation prior to its implementation in 2025. 

2025 - implementation

All new homes, built after 2025, will have to comply with the UK’s new Future Homes standards. This includes the requirement to comply with new building standards and that all new homes need to be “zero carbon ready”.

house being renovated

Interim changes

👀 Let's take a look at the interim regulations in a bit more detail.

The interim changes to the Buildings Regulations came into effect from 15 June 2022 and require that all new-build homes reduce carbon emissions by 31% (compared to old regulations), and for all non-domestic buildings to reduce their carbon emissions by 27%. 

According to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) “the changes mark an important step on our journey towards a cleaner, greener built environment. It supports us in our target to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions to zero by 2050.” 

The target referred to of course is the UK’s legal commitment to achieving net-zero emissions (compared with 1990 levels) by 2050. Since the adoption of this target the UK Government has introduced a variety of measures and legislation that aims to decarbonise the UK. 

The new rules will significantly impact those who want to build, extend or renovate their homes, as well as architects and those working in the building trade.

These interim changes have updated the following sections of the UK’s Building Regulations: 

  • Part L - energy and carbon emissions
  • Part B - fire safety 
  • Part F - ventilation

Two new section were also introduced: 

  • Part O - overheating
  • Part S - electric vehicle charging stations

Who do the interim changes apply to?

It’s still possible to build under the old regulations so long as you have a building notice, initial notice or if you deposited full building plans with your local authority before the deadline of 15 June 2022. You must also start the build within a one year time frame (ie. before 15 June 2023). Any builds that occur after these deadlines will have to abide by the new regulations.

building plans on desk next to drill and nails

So what do the changes to the regulations require?

Part L (energy and carbon emissions)

Updates to the Buildings Regulations include new insulation requirements for new-build homes, which will be assessed under a new standards assessment procedure (known as SAP10).

Those who are self-building will also have to carry out site audits to prove that the design details from their plans have been implemented. Photographic evidence will be needed to support this. 

In the case of existing homes, new fabric efficiency standards now apply where a homeowner is looking to replace or add new thermal elements (for example windows and doors). 

Additional changes worth noting include new rules regarding the amount of window glazing required when adding extensions and decreased low flow temperatures for heating systems. 

man installing light fitting

Part F (ventilation)

The amendments to Part F are intended to make it easier for renovators and self-builders to understand the importance of ventilation in a home. The most crucial requirement is that whenever any work is done to improve the energy efficiency of a home, this must not decrease the ventilation. 

There will be necessary checklists which will make it easier to install new ventilation products and they will also come with guidance explaining the importance of ventilation.

Part B (Fire safety)

The updates to the regulations have strengthened the UK’s ban on the use of combustible materials in and on the external walls of buildings. This ban already covered flats, hospitals, student residences and boarding school accommodation, but will now also apply to hotels, hostels and boarding houses.

Part O (overheating)

This new section of the Building Regulations aims to prevent overheating during the summer and provide adequate means of cooling. The regulations set out two methods that can be used to comply with the regulation. Technical details on this can be found in the regulations

Part S (electric vehicle charge stations)

These new regulations have the aim of future proofing homes and buildings by including electric charge points for electric vehicles. The regulations provide technical guidance on this and also introduce a price cap so that installation of a charge point isn’t prohibitively expensive. 

electric car on charge

👉 These new measures are just an interim solution, until the Future Homes Standard comes into effect from 2025. The Future Homes Standard will introduce more demanding changes to ensure that buildings are more energy efficient.

Challenges ahead

It’s undeniable that the UK Future Home Standards are a big step in the right direction, but that's not to say that they won’t face challenges or that the UK’s Future Homes Standard is without criticism. Let's take a little look at these in more detail below:  

  • The technical specification of the UK Future Home Standards are still undergoing consultation, the results of which won't be published until later in 2023. In effect this means that the components and materials of any new houses won’t be known until after this point.  With the 20225 deadline for the implementation of the standards looming ever closer there are concerns over supply chain capabilities. Will manufacturers be able to ensure that they’re producing complaint materials before the 2025 deadline, and will the supply be able to keep up with demand? 
  • The heat pump supply chain capability will need to significantly increase if it is to meet government targets. As it stands only a few tens of thousands of heat pumps are produced each year in the UK. The UK Government has set a target of 600,000 annual heat pump installations by 2028, which means that the manufacture of this technology is going to have to significantly ramp up in coming years. 
  • Many have voiced the concern that house builders need clearer guidance to help them understand the new changes. Poor government communication and engagement is partly to blame.

What can we expect going forward?

The UK Government’s goal going forward is that all new homes are well equipped with low-carbon heating systems (which means that they won’t need to be retrofitted at a later date), that the construction industry embraces low carbon technologies and solutions, and that homes in the UK are more energy efficient, thereby contributing to the UK’s bigger goal of achieving net-zero by 2050. 

The UK’s Future Homes Standard will help to achieve these aims while also cutting down on energy costs - which are at an alltime high for UK home owners. However, if the UK Government is going to be successful in meeting these targets it’s going to have to fully flesh out the details of the Future Homes Standard, providing more clear guidance for those affected, as well as developing policies that will support the implementation of the standards. The second consultation period will hopefully alleviate many people's concerns and provide answers to outstanding questions. 

What about Greenly? 

At Greenly we can help you to assess your company’s carbon footprint, and then give you the tools you need to cut down on emissions. Why not request a free demo with one of our experts - no obligation or commitment required. 

If you’d like to learn more about a specific industry, Greenly can help by providing an in-depth industry study, created by our climate scientists.

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