How you can shape our future homes and buildings

With only a few weeks left for industry professionals to provide their insight on the Future Homes and Buildings Standards consultation, here’s what you should know.

Confronting the reality of climate change has never been more pressing and the construction industry has a leading part to play.


The UK government’s big goal is to slash greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, ensuring that new homes built from 2025 will produce 75-80% less carbon emissions than homes built under current building regulations.

Buildings, like homes and offices, contribute significantly to these emissions so it makes sense that new buildings should be made more energy efficient to meet this goal and help to tackle climate change. This will bring plenty of opportunities for the UK: skills growth, reduced energy bills, and warmer and better buildings.


The here and now

The Future Homes Standard stipulates that housebuilders construct new homes to be low carbon as the UK’s built environment is responsible for around 30% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.


The minimum energy efficiency requirements for new homes and non-domestic buildings are set through Part L (Conservation of fuel and power) of Schedule 1 and Part 6 of the Building Regulations. In 2021 the government implemented an uplift to Part L and introduced regulations to reduce overheating risk in new residential buildings (Part O), which came into effect on 15 June 2022.

New homes and non-domestic buildings are now expected to produce significantly lower carbon emissions compared to those built to the 2013 standards.

The 2025 Future Homes and Buildings Standards aim to build on the 2021 Part L uplift and propose a more holistic approach to how the building performs.

In December 2023, the government kicked off a consultation to propose plans to make homes and buildings of the future energy efficient - all part of the Future Homes and Future Buildings Standards.

They're eager to hear views from across the industry on how new homes and commercial buildings can be more energy efficient and warm without wasting heat.

Why your views really count
Time is of the essence – the Future Homes and Buildings Standards will be set in 2024 and it builds on the increase in energy efficiency standards for new homes and non-domestic buildings introduced in 2021. The responses from the consultation will also shape how Building Regulations are amended in 2024.

What is in the consultation?
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is asking for thoughts on their proposals to:

  • Ensure new buildings meet the goal of net zero emissions by focusing on improving heating, hot water systems, building fabrics, and reducing heat waste.
  • Introduce low carbon alternatives like solar PV panels and heat pumps.
  • Keep the same way of measuring how energy-efficient buildings are.
  • Insisting that all heating and hot water comes from low-carbon sources.
  • Raising the bar on the standards for changing how buildings are used to help people save on bills and cut down on emissions.
  • Switching the way mechanical ventilation systems are inspected.
  • Letting new buildings connect to existing or new heat networks.
  • Taking a more holistic approach to how the building performs, rather than focusing on specific elements such as walls, floors, or roofs.
  •  Adopt the new Home Energy Model to show that new homes comply with the Future Homes Standard assessment - this will replace SAP which currently assess the energy performance certificate ratings.


The future is bright
Over at Saint-Gobain UK and Ireland we have promising insight into how the Future Homes Standard can be delivered at scale by 2025, providing that the supply chain of key components can keep pace and skills training is readily available.

Initial findings from two prototype homes, including Saint-Gobain’s ehome2, built in the unique Energy House 2.0 climate chamber at the University of Salford in January 2023, revealed positive results.  

During rigorous fabric testing in a chamber that can recreate environmental conditions of 95% of the earth’s inhabited land, with temperatures from -20c to 40c, including rain, wind, snow, and solar, showed that the house achieved exceptional airtightness levels - measuring as better than design values and showing low levels of heat loss.

The first results from the project concentrate on the fabric of the homes, including the overall performance, as well as the walls, roofs, and floors. The lessons learned are helping to develop a roadmap for housebuilders to build zero carbon new homes in the UK.

Testing continues and further results of heating systems and occupant comfort in eHome2 will land later this year.

Further research is underway as Saint-Gobain teams with partners in a multi-million-pound research project to deliver energy efficient and sustainable new and existing homes in Greater Manchester. Testing is underway on energy efficiency, air quality, and how homes feel and sound at facilities in the University of Manchester and the University of Salford.

Next steps
What's next? Bring your thoughts to the table and take part in the Future Homes and Buildings Standards consultation, which closes on 6 March, 2024.