UK Government consults on new standard for future homes

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The government has launched a consultation on stronger building regulations that will pave the way for a new Future Homes Standard for new-build homes that will in turn bring an ‘environmental revolution’ to home building. The proposals were unveiled by the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, in October. 

The Future Homes Standard will see fossil fuel heating systems such as gas boilers banned from new homes by 2025 and replaced with the latest generation of clean technology – such as air source heat pumps and solar panels. 

Views are being sought on how changes to building regulations can drive down the carbon footprint of homes built after 2025 – also including changes to the ventilation and efficiency requirements, as well as the role of councils in getting the best energy standards from developers. The consultation will run until January 2020. 

Jenrick said: ‘I want to ensure everyone – including developers – does their bit to protect the environment and give the next generation beautiful, environmentally friendly homes that local communities can support. That’s why I am requiring carbon emissions are cut by up to 80% from 2025 for all new homes.’ 

Responding to the announcement, John Alker, Director of Policy and Places at UK Green Building Council, said: ‘With the UK now legally bound to deliver net zero carbon emissions across the economy by 2050, as a nation we can no longer avoid the crucial role that new homes play in helping to meet this target.’ 

But Alker also mentioned the failure of previous initiatives from the government in this area: ‘It is encouraging to see a recognition from government of the importance of clarity for businesses in the construction sector. By setting out a roadmap towards the Future Homes Standard in 2025, this should provide confidence in the direction of travel. Many in the industry are still scarred by the scrapping of the Code for Sustainable Homes and Zero Carbon Homes policy in 2015, so government must learn lessons from that, and be absolutely rock solid in its commitment to this agenda.’ 

A project for Norwich City Council made up of almost 100 highly energy-efficient homes – Goldsmith Street by Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley – has won the 2019 Stirling Prize awarded to the UK’s best new building. The development meets rigorous Passivhaus energy standards – remarkable for a dense, mass housing development. It is a passive solar scheme, designed to minimise fuel bills for residents – annual energy costs are estimated to be 70% lower than for the average household. Even the smallest details have been thought about – letterboxes are built into external porches to reduce any possibility of draughts, and perforated aluminium ‘brise-soleils’ provide sunshades above windows and doors. 

Photo: RIBA. Award-winning ‘Passivhaus’ council homes in Norwich should have energy bills 70% lower than those for average homes.

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