All new-build UK homes must be constructed to zero-carbon standards by 2025, the government has revealed in its long-awaited response to the consultation on the Future Homes Standard.
Covering businesses as well as homes, the new measures state that, by 2025, the government expects new homes to produce 75-80% lower carbon emissions compared with current levels, with new-builds expected to produce 31% lower carbon emissions from 2021.
Additionally, existing homes will be subject to new requirements such as for replacements, repairs, and parts to be more energy efficient.
Announcing the measures, Housing minister Christopher Pincher said: “Improving the energy performance of buildings is vital to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 and protecting the environment for future generations to come.
“The radical new standards announced today will not only improve energy efficiency of existing homes and other buildings, but will also ensure our new homes are fit for the future, by reducing emissions from new homes by at least 75%.
“This will help deliver greener homes and buildings, as well as reducing energy bills for hard-working families and businesses.”
The government says there will be “stringent transitional arrangements” in place to provide all developers with certainty about the standards they are building, which will last one year and apply to individual homes, rather than entire developments.
It added that it is “committed to reaching net-zero and is taking considerable action to address the emissions from buildings”, highlighting the fact that heating and powering buildings currently accounts for 40% of the UK’s total energy usage.
The proposals outlined in the public consultation on the Future Homes Standard aim to protect the environment, lower energy use and bills, and reduce emissions.
The government hosted the first consultation on the standard from 1 October 2019 to 7 February 2020, with the second consultation now launched and due to end on 13 April.
The second consultation includes plans to tackle the threat of infection – with additional ventilation and indoor air quality monitoring in high-risk non-domestic buildings – and overheating in residential buildings.
Commenting on the announcement, Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive at UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), said: “After a long wait, the government’s response to the Future Homes Standard consultation brings much-needed clarity to our industry.
“We are pleased to see confirmation that the Future Homes Standard will mean new homes will have carbon dioxide emissions 75-80% lower than those built to current Building Regulations – though it’s regrettable that the standard won’t be implemented till 2025, despite it being widely trailed that it would be brought forward to 2023.
“We also welcome the interim 31% threshold later this year, which will put us on a path to the Future Homes Standard.”
She added: “It’s a big relief that the government has ditched its original proposal to scrap the Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard (FEES).
“We had long argued that scrapping the FEES would be a highly retrograde step, meaning in some cases that a home that would fail current Building Regulations because of poor fabric could pass the 2021 regulations.
“Meanwhile, the many local authorities that have declared climate emergencies will also be relieved that government has confirmed that in the immediate term they can still set higher energy performance standards for new homes than those mandated by building regulations.
“But they, like us, will be disappointed that government hasn’t completely ruled out curtailing their powers in the future.”
Image: Elena Elisseeva/Shutterstock
Read next: Sustainability Showcase | CHP
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