After a long consultation period, the government has finally issued an update on the Future Homes Standard. On the 19th January 2021, Housing Minister Chris Pincher introduced new measures focusing on reducing overheating in homes and increasing energy efficiency as part of a drive to ensure all new homes are zero carbon-ready by 2025.
Their response has been anticipated for some time, but we now have a better understanding of the upcoming Part L changes and the timeline towards a Future Homes Standard in 2025. Copies of the government response can be found here:
Up until the implementation date of the new Part L, C80 Solutions will continue to assist our clients and other industry stakeholders with updates on the Part L changes.
In this article, we will cover the main takeaway points from the consultation response; identifying seven main points which we believe will impact the industry the most.
The new Future Homes Standard
Under the new rules, all newly constructed buildings and building work in existing buildings will need to be highly energy efficient. This includes a “significant improvement” to standards for extensions. In 2021, the government is hoping to reduce carbon emissions in new homes by 31% in comparison with current standards and by a further 75-80% in 2025.
Low-carbon heating options will need to be installed in new homes and upgrades to existing properties will be expected to utilise technologies such as heat pumps, cooling systems and fixed lighting. Measures will also look to tackle the problem of overheating in order to drive down costly bills for families and help the government meet its climate change goals.
A consultation on higher performance targets for non-domestic buildings to ensure they will also be zero carbon-ready by 2025 has now been announced to follow on from the original consultation.
1 – Legislation and Key Dates for Part L & Part F
The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government’s (MHCLG) commitment is that all new homes built from 2025 will provide a 75% saving on carbon emissions against current standards. The next Part L release will provide a step towards that target prior to the final Future Homes Specification (FHS) release in 2025. Implementation dates are provided within the consultation response which show the timeline of milestones to achieve the FHS.
2 – Transitional Arrangements for Part L
Unlike previous versions of Part L, the transition from a one version of Part L to another will be based on the dwelling rather than the site; meaning larger sites registered before June 2022 can build to the current version of Part L. However, any dwellings not commenced within one year will have to build to Part L 2021. This will undoubtedly have implications on house type specfications and compliance.
3 – Part L1A 2021 Specification
In our previous article we explained that MHCLG would adopt either a 20% or 31% uplift in the next version of Part L. The government has now confirmed it has adopted the 31% uplift. To do so, a standard specification has been created identifying fabric and building services used in the notional building. An indicative 2025 FHS specification is also provided which shows the progression to an overall 75% uplift.
The specification shows improvements on U-values, but the building services used in the notional building are worth noting. Part L 2021 includes PV suggesting there will be an uptake in PV for compliance and heat pumps for the FHS 2025 specification.
4 – Indicators of Compliance with Part L
From the October 2019 consultation, MHCLG intended to remove the Target Fabric Energy Efficiency (TFEE) and introduce an Affordability Rating and Target Primary Energy Rating (TPER). Following the responses, MHCLG has decided to retain the TFEE and not introduce the Affordability Rating, reasoning that the improved fabric requirements will inherently reduce energy costs for the homeowner. However, the TPER will be implemented in 2021 meaning there will be four indicators of performance:
- Target Primary Energy Rating
- Target Emission Rating
- Target Fabric Energy Efficiency
- Minimum standards for fabric and fixed building services
5 – Low Carbon Technologies
With a blend of electricity producing capabilities the government’s intention is to have low/zero carbon compatible homes from 2025. To do so grid electricity will be decarbonised meaning there is move away from more traditional heating systems such as gas boilers. Similarly, the government intends to grow the heat pump market so that it is comparable to boilers. This approach should mean that with improved fabric and low carbon technology, they can meet the 75% carbon emission reduction.
6 – Air Testing
The target for an air test has been reduced from 10 m3/h.m2 @ 50Pa to 8 m3/h.m2 @ 50Pa, which should not have huge implications based on what is currently required. However, under Part 2021, all dwellings will require testing meaning the use of an average result + 2 has been removed.
An item to note is the consideration of introducing Pulse testing in addition to the current fan blower methods although more information will be provided by the government at a later date.
6 – Photographic Evidence/Building Control
Draft Part L 2021 suggests a new Building Regulation England Part L (BREL) report will be produced from approved SAP software to demonstrate compliance against the requirements. However, a significant change is the addition of photographic evidence provided to the energy assessor and building control. Appendix B of Draft Part L 2021 sets out all the stages as well as the photograph requirements i.e. photo quality and who should take them.
7 – Fuel Factors
As seen in Table 1 in previous versions of Part L1A, fuel factors form part of the notional dwelling which sets out the Target Emission or Fabric Rating. The government will now remove the fuel factors noting that it simplifies the calculations and contributes to their commitment of “phasing out the installation of high carbon fossil fuels.”
With each of the above main changes there are sub sections which do require further explanation. At C80 Solutions we will continue to assist the industry and provide further information in due course. Until then, if you have any questions regarding the upcoming changes then please do not hesitate to contact us.