Future Homes Standard – Paris tickbox or/and great advance?

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The government is consulting on its “Future Homes Standard”, with deadline 7th February – see https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/the-future-homes-standard-changes-to-part-l-and-part-f-of-the-building-regulations-for-new-dwellings

The London Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI; https://www.LETI.london) is highly critical of the Future Homes Standard, and is urging us to write to our MPs to complain about the worst aspects.  It has produced a package including a draft letter to MPs, which you can download from https://www.leti.london/part-l (that’s an ell not a one at the end).  (This comes as a Zip file). 

LETI’s concerns are, in order of relevance to BTN:

1. The FHS will remove local authorities’ ability to set higher standards than the national standard for buildings – this would put paid to making Manydown a national example of a low-carbon village;

2. The FHS wants to do away with the current requirement on house fabric (“Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard”). This means that a contractor can rely on the heating method being low-carbon rather than building a high-standard fabric – so a new house is welcome to spew heat worse than present standards, provided that heat has been generated by low-carbon means; and it doesn’t include monitoring for the lifetime of the building or any incentive to the users to maintain efficiency;

3. It doesn’t include whole-life emissions (choice of construction materials and methods, and disposal);

4. It isn’t ambitious enough – low not zero carbon; the 31% reduction proposed isn’t nearly big enough.

On no. 2 the government is aware of the likely abuse, and proposes to uplift standards for individual elements (walls, windows, etc.). LETI says that the uplift isn’t great enough to prevent the abuse, and proposes a stringent new standard for reduced energy loss through walls etc.

I’d also comment that the government needs to up its game in low-carbon energy generation and carbon-capture-and-storage if it doesn’t insist on a high standard of insulation. That isn’t covered by the FHS.

One more item not mentioned by LETI (presumably because it doesn’t apply in London) is the removal of a concession for carbon-intensive heat sources in dwellings off the gas grid, i.e. LPG, heating oil and coal. This will force builders to make rural homes of higher standard than urban ones.

Something that looks positive is a new “technology factor” to upweight connection of a house to a district heating network. No good if this allows the builder to get away with less insulation, of course…