29 Jan 2021

Zero carbon ready from 2025 - a look at the Future Homes Standard and Future Building Standard

On 19 January 2021, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced new energy efficiency standards for new homes to reduce energy consumption and lower bills, helping to protect the environment, as well as a construction products regulator.

Although the Future Homes Standard hasn’t yet set out upgrade requirements for existing homes, it does discuss energy requirements for extensions, building improvements and renovation, essentially ensuring existing homes are also subject to higher standards to meet the UK’s target for achieving net zero by 2050. The release of the government’s response to the Future Homes Standard consultation is welcomed and provides some clarity on the journey to delivering greener homes.

The intention is that homes built to the Future Homes Standard will not need to be retrofitted with any additional measures or technology to become net zero. The government published the results of its consultation which sought views for a green Future Homes Standard and plans for building regulations in England to radically improve energy efficiency and cut carbon emissions in new builds. All homes are to be highly energy efficient with low carbon heating and to be ‘zero carbon ready’ by 2025; these homes are expected to produce 75-80% lower carbon emissions compared to current levels and, to ensure industry is ready to meet the new standards by 2025, homes built to the interim standard should produce 31% less carbon dioxide emissions compared to current levels from 2021. This delivers a significant uptick in the pace of the shift away from gas boilers and the expectation is that heat pumps will become the main source of heating system for most new homes. The interim uplift in standards will be delivered through an updated Part L of the Building Regulations and the final version of Part L will be published in December 2021, due to come into force in June 2022.

A full technical specification for the Future Homes Standard will be consulted on in 2023 and legislation will be introduced in 2024, ahead of implementation in 2025. The government is also launching a second consultation on additional changes to Part L and Part F, which cover conservation of fuel, power and ventilation and on proposals to address overheating in residential buildings.

Tackling climate change is one of, if not the biggest challenge the world faces.

The commitment that all new homes are to be ‘zero carbon ready’ by 2025 has further propelled the issue of sustainability into the spotlight, again reminding us that housing has a fundamental role to play in reducing the environmental impact that arises from building and maintaining homes. By ensuring we are on target to reach these rigorous new goals, we will be providing a very welcome reduction in energy bills for homeowners and tenants, too.

To do this takes strong partnerships with government and with each other, the supply chain, residents, and funders.

Written by Alexandra Gibson

Alexandra Gibson is a policy and practice officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing. She leads on housing sustainability (net zero carbon and retrofitting), as well asrepairs and maintenance.