Policy briefing: Get ready for new green standards for new-build homes

The government is consulting on plans to require a significant improvement in the energy performance of new homes and slash their greenhouse gas emissions

MHCLG has proposed four new building performance metrics for new builds. Photograph: shank_ali/Getty Images

What is the Future Homes Standard?

First announced in the Spring Statement by ex-chancellor Phillip Hammond, the Future Homes Standard is the government’s new policy aimed at tackling carbon emissions from new homes. To be introduced in 2025, the proposed standard will target a significant improvement in the energy performance of new homes in response to the climate crisis.

What new requirements does the consultation propose?

The consultation on the Future Homes Standard, published by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), forms part of a wider consultation on policy proposals for Part L and Part F of the Building Regulations, to come into force in 2020. For 2020, the main proposal is an uplift on Part L 2013, which would result in either a 20% or 31% reduction in emissions from new build homes, with a noted government preference for the latter.

The current consultation does not make detailed proposals for the Future Homes Standard in 2025, but MHCLG expects that an average home built to it will have 75-80% fewer carbon emissions than one built to today’s minimum standard (Part L 2013). New homes would typically have very high fabric standards, a low-carbon heating system delivered through heat pumps, heat networks and in some circumstances direct electric heating. Before introducing the standard in 2025, MHCLG plans to conduct research from 2021 into 2023 and says it will establish an industry taskforce, with a view to consulting on implementation of the standard in 2024.

How will the performance of homes be measured?

The consultation proposes moving away from using CO2 emissions as the prime measurement of building performance. Instead, four new metrics are proposed: primary energy (the principal performance metric); CO2 emissions (the secondary metric); a new householder affordability rating, so that new dwellings are affordable to heat; and minimum standards for fabric and fixed building services.

What are the implications for housebuilders?

Housebuilders will need to gear up to meet the Future Homes Standard in 2025. This will require detailed engagement with their supply chains and the upskilling of contractors. There will clearly be an additional cost of building to the new standard, but MHCLG says that because the cost increase will affect all developers equally, any competitive effects in the market for building development “are likely to be negligible”. 

What happens next?

The deadline for the current consultation is 10 January 2020.  We are also promised a further consultation by the end of the year, covering new non-domestic as well as existing domestic and non-domestic buildings. The new Part L, Part F and overheating regulations will be published in early to mid-2020 and are expected to come into force in mid- to late-2020.  

Jenny Holland is public affairs and policy specialist
at the UK Green Building Council