Editorial Feature

What is the Future Homes Standard and What Does it Mean for New Builds?

The push towards net zero is central to the aims of several governments worldwide. Multiple sectors must be rapidly decarbonized, with new energy-efficient and low-carbon technologies key to this endeavor.

Future Homes Standard, new builds

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The construction sector is a major contributor to carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, and decarbonizing the industry is incredibly difficult. Recognizing the key contribution of the sector to climate change and the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, governments have introduced a wealth of regulations in recent years.

This article will investigate the UK government's Future Home Standard (FHS) and how it affects new builds as well as existing homes.

What is the Future Home Standard (FHS)?

Around 30% of the total energy usage in the UK is due to the heat and power needs of residential and commercial buildings. Comprehensive regulations are desperately needed to bring this figure down and save carbon emissions, with the current Building Regulations falling somewhat short of this aim.

From 2025, the UK government aims to reduce 75-80% of carbon emissions from the residential building sector by ensuring that new homes built in the future conform to the new Future Home Standard (FHS.) This will future-proof the UK construction sector as the world tackles the effects of climate change and seeks to reduce its reliance on environmentally harmful fossil fuels.

There are a number of aims within FHS, mainly focusing on improving both hot water and heating systems and reducing the amount of heat wasted. Heat waste can further contribute to the energy needs of buildings, driving carbon emissions.

Several approaches can be taken to decarbonize new buildings and, consequently, help the construction sector and the UK government meet its net zero commitments, and the FHS incorporates these. Energy-efficient technologies such as heat pumps, insulation, innovative structural materials, and triple-glazing standards are covered in the new regulations.

FHS Timeline

The technical details and implementation of the FHS have not been confirmed at the time of going to press as the regulations are still being developed by the UK government. However, according to CBRE, what this will look like can be anticipated.

Phase 1

This phase, which was initiated in spring 2023, is an ongoing consultation and policy development phase, with technical consultations regarding the FHS’s proposed specifications.

Phase 2

Phase 2 will see the full implementation of the Future Homes Standard. 2024 will likely see several consultations on how the regulations will be implemented, with 2025 seeing FHS coming fully into effect.

Uplifts to Current Building Regulations

Recognizing that the UK construction industry needs to be prepared for the implementation of the FHS in 2025, the UK government uplifted parts F and L of the current Building Regulations at the end of 2021. It was envisioned that these uplifts would help improve the energy efficiency of homes in the interim whilst preparing the sector for the FHS’s impact.

The construction sector urgently needs to be prepared for the introduction of FHS, especially as it is a tight timeline. With many construction projects already in the works for 2025, satisfying the requirements of a changing construction landscape is paramount for the industry.

Interim uplifts to current regulations in preparation for the FHS should help the construction industry prepare by improving skills, construction practices, and supply chains, according to CBRE.

However, these uplifts, whilst a step in the right direction, are not without their challenges. Problems with the uplift to Part L have been identified during consultations, with concerns raised that targeted emissions savings lack the requisite ambition.

How Could the FHS Affect New Builds in the UK?

All new builds will have to conform to FHS from 2025, as explained earlier in this article. To recap, they will have to be built from new, low-carbon structural materials, incorporate energy-efficient technologies such as heat pumps, and leverage triple-glazing standards. They must minimize heat loss, encourage energy efficiency, and reduce carbon emissions by 75-80%.

Concerns have also been raised concerning how the FHS could affect the price of new buildings. For instance, if low-carbon materials prove prohibitively expensive, the cost would have to be justified, leading to building prices increasing.

This could provide a massive challenge for the construction industry in the UK as a whole as it seeks to reduce its environmental impact. Additionally, increased costs of new homes could play a role in further exacerbating what is generally regarded as a housing market that is already becoming extremely expensive for first-time buyers to get a foothold in.

However, the urgent need to mitigate the impact of human civilization on the natural world is becoming more obvious, especially with the increasing instances of extreme weather events across the world.

The benefits of decarbonization will also be felt by individuals buying these new build homes, as energy efficiency savings will feed through into lower bills, saving them money over time.

To conclude, whilst new challenges will doubtless appear as regulations come into effect in 2025, if implemented correctly, the benefits the FHS would bring to the UK construction sector’s decarbonization efforts could outweigh any potential drawbacks. Consequently, FHS could become a cornerstone of the UK government’s plans to meet its net-zero carbon emission targets.

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References and Further Reading 

Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (2019) The Future Homes Standard: changes to Part L and Part F of the Building Regulations for new dwellings [online] gov.uk. Available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/the-future-homes-standard-changes-to-part-l-and-part-f-of-the-building-regulations-for-new-dwellings

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (2023) The Future Homes and Buildings Standards: 2023 consultation [online] gov.uk. Available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/the-future-homes-and-buildings-standards-2023-consultation​​​​​​​

Franks, E (2023) What is the 2025 Future Homes Standard and how will it impact residential real estate? [online] CBRE. Available at:

https://www.cbre.co.uk/insights/articles/what-is-the-2025-future-homes-standard-and-how-will-it-impact-residential-real-estate

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Reginald Davey

Written by

Reginald Davey

Reg Davey is a freelance copywriter and editor based in Nottingham in the United Kingdom. Writing for AZoNetwork represents the coming together of various interests and fields he has been interested and involved in over the years, including Microbiology, Biomedical Sciences, and Environmental Science.

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