Government Future Homes plans ‘lower than today’s standards’

Ministers said the changes outlined would deliver new homes and non-domestic buildings that were zero carbon-ready. This is defined as meaning no further work on the home would be necessary to cut out all emissions once the electricity grid is decarbonised.

McWhirter added that it was ‘unconscionable’ to consult on an option for a building specification that didn’t include solar panels. The consultation document noted that grid decarbonisation meant photovoltaic panels ‘make a relatively small contribution to the carbon savings of individual homes compared with the switch to low-carbon heating’.

‘The best developers have spent years and millions gearing up for modern green building standards. The UKGBC will be convening our members to submit a detailed response to the consultation that sets out how higher standards can be practical, affordable and protect climate and nature.’

This consultation proposes changes to Building Regulations dealing with energy efficiency, ventilation and conservation of fuel and power. It also seeks evidence on previous changes to Part O of the regulations, covering overheating.

‘This can’t genuinely be described as a future standard,’ he insisted. ‘Having already shattered industry confidence with repeated green roll-backs, the government has opted for the least ambitious option that would deliver homes from 2025 at a lower standard than many already built today.’

PTE announced its involvement in the plans in February, saying they would go to the public in the spring.

But Simon McWhirter, deputy chief executive at the UKGBC, was dismissive of the proposals.

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) said the draft new standards, drawn up by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities with support from architects at Pollard Thomas Edwards (PTE) and Aecom, represented ‘the least ambitious option’.

‘This builds on our long-term plan for housing to deliver the high-quality, energy-efficient homes that local communities want and need.’

Penn said: ‘New homes and buildings must be fit for the future to help us reach net zero by 2050.

Tom Dollard​​​​, sustainability and innovation partner at PTE, said the practice had been working with Aecom for the past year on the document.

‘It is a significant improvement to existing regulations and will help deliver lower carbon, good quality homes,’ he said. ‘We are excited to see what the feedback from the rest of the industry will be.’

McWhirter said: ‘Despite such a long delay in producing this draft standard, the government still hasn’t included measures to reduce the embodied carbon emissions from construction, which account for around one in 10 tonnes of climate emissions in the UK. Nor has it moved to tackle flood risk or end the huge water waste from new builds that is driving shortages and so much ecological damage.

Housing minister Baroness Penn this week said measures set out in the Future Homes and Buildings Standards consultation would slash the carbon emissions from new residences by 75 per cent. PTE said the changes to Parts 6, L and F of the Building Regulations created ‘a significant improvement’ from existing laws.

‘Our energy-saving changes will cut bills for new homeowners and businesses while also reducing carbon emissions by at least 75 per cent for all new homes.

Following consultation, the standard could come into force in 2025.