Letter: Future Homes Standard and proposals for tightening Part L in 2020

Letter: Future Homes Standard and proposals for tightening Part L in 2020

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1. Outline

This is a letter from Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, and Baroness Brown, Chair of the CCC’s Adaptation Committee, to Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP. The letter provides the Committee’s recommendations on the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government’s recent proposals for the Future Homes Standard – which will mean that by 2025, no new homes will be built with gas boilers – along with the tightening in 2020 of Part L of the building regulations.

2. Key recommendations

Making a new home genuinely zero-carbon at the outset is around five times cheaper than retrofitting it later, and almost always will reduce residents’ energy bills too. We recommend the following specific proposals:

  • The full definition of the Future Homes Standard should be set now and legislated ahead of 2024 to give market certainty. MHCLG should consider bringing forward the date for introducing the Future Homes Standard too – we note that Scotland plans to introduce equivalent standards a year earlier.
  • Without an adequate replacement for Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard, homes could see bills which are 50% higher than under current standards – this needs addressing. By 2025 if not before, ultra-energy efficient homes are both achievable and highly beneficial (equivalent to close to Passivhaus standards), but it requires setting out the ambition now rapidly to upskill the workforce.
  • The proposed Future Homes Standard can be interpreted in such a way that onsite renewables like solar PV could act as an ‘offset’ to continued fossil fuel use.
  • Where local authorities and cities wish to set more stringent or earlier targets they should be allowed to do so.
  • The Future Homes Standard must also set a framework for assessing the significant emissions in buildings materials.
  • Unless fabric efficiency, overheating and ventilation are considered jointly when retrofitting or building new homes, there is a high risk that poor ventilation and air-tightness will lead to overheating and poor indoor air quality. Proposals are needed to address growing risks of flooding and water stress.
  • Fundamental issues around compliance and performance need tackling. This means first driving a shift towards monitoring actual energy consumption and second, broadening the current buildings safety work programme beyond its current focus on fire safety. This must also build on proposals for tightening planning loopholes – making sure that homes must comply with the latest standards unless they are substantially completed – along with further documentation and widespread testing and adequate funding for Building Control Bodies.