The government has published its long-awaited response to the 2019-20 consultation on the Future Homes Standard, which sought views on how best to improve the energy performance of new homes through changes to Part L and Part F of the Building Regulations.
Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) has welcomed some of the changes in the document which are in line with the recommendation in its response to the consultation but has expressed remaining concerns about a number of the proposals.
The Future Homes Standard sets out how the government plans to improve the energy performance of new homes by 2025 with low-carbon heating and improved levels of energy efficiency.
The 2019-20 consultation was on changes to Part L (conservation of fuel and power) and Part F (ventilation) of the Building Regulations for new dwellings as the first step in achieving the Future Homes Standards and the Future Homes Standard itself.
Some of the positive changes in the response, which are in line with CIBSE’s recommendations include:
- Retaining the right for Local Authorities to set energy and carbon standards that go beyond Building Regulations;
- Retaining a fabric efficiency standard to promote a fabric first approach to compliance with Part L
- Accelerating the development of the Future Homes Standard, now set for draft publication in 2023, to give confidence to supply chains and encourage early adoption by market leaders and local authorities
- Changing the method for assessing the contribution of district heat networks to ensure a fairer comparison of their carbon impact compared to other heating options.
However, CIBSE still has concerns about a number of proposals contained in the response including:
- The lack of ambition in the proposed airtightness of 5m3/hr at 50Pa in the Future Homes Standard, which is far from being a world class level of energy efficiency. This will hold back the development of supply chains for mechanical ventilation units with heat recovery (MVHR) which would deliver energy savings and good indoor air quality.
- The continued use of a notional dwelling to set compliance targets. This prevents verification of energy in use and does not drive passive design. CIBSE would like to see the government move to simpler, more effective and trackable targets such as Energy Use Intensity and carbon emissions per square metre per year.
- The use of primary energy consumption as a metric should be replaced by energy use to enable comparisons between buildings, create a closer link with real life performance and enable energy use to be tracked over time.
- While CIBSE welcomes the measures proposed to address the performance gap up to Practical Completion, it is concerned that there are no measures proposed to help close the performance gap for buildings in operation.
In addition to the response to the consultation on the Future Homes Standard for new dwellings, the government also published proposals to improve the energy performance of existing dwellings and non-domestic buildings. CIBSE will respond to these consultations in due course while continuing to engage with government and industry.