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The Future Homes Standard – – Demand zero carbon building standards…

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The Government is currently consulting on changes to Part L (conservation of fuel and power) and Part F (ventilation) of the Building Regulations for new dwellings – with the snappier title of ‘The Future Homes Standard‘.

Read on to find out why tougher building regulations are really important to reduce climate-wrecking emissions from the housing sector and ask your MP to tell the Government to introduce building standards that meet the climate emergency.

Sounds great, but the proposed changes to building regulations in England and Wales are likely to make buildings less energy efficient not more, according to London Energy Transformation Initiative (Leti), a voluntary group of more than 1,000 architects and engineers

“a step backwards, in a climate where we need a huge leap forward”

The proposed changes to the regulations would remove something called the Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard, meaning a building designed next year could be allowed to perform much worse than one built in 2013, when the current standards were introduced. Similarly, a building that would fail to meet the current regulations would pass under the new system. Part L applies to all buildings, although the current consultation covers only dwellings.

Our homes account for 27% of the UK’s total carbon emissions.  If the Government hopes to meet its legal requirement to be Zero Carbon by 2050 (and we need to do this before then), our homes need to be Zero Carbon.

Unfortunately, the Future Homes Standard only proposes to set carbon emission reduction targets of 31% for houses built after 2030.

Blocking local climate action?

Perhaps even more worrying is that the Government appears to be considering preventing local councils from adopting building regulations that set higher standards.

Q4 When, if at all, should the government commence the amendment to the Planning and Energy Act 2008 to restrict local planning authorities from setting higher energy efficiency standards for dwellings? 

a. In 2020 alongside the introduction of any option to uplift to the energy efficiency standards of Part L 

b. In 2020 but only in the event of the introduction of a 31% uplift (option 2) to the energy efficiency standards of Part L 

c. In 2025 alongside the introduction of the Future Homes Standard 

d. The government should not commence the amendment to the Planning and Energy Act
 

The proposed Future Homes Standard seeks to take away local authorities’ powers to demand greater energy efficiency or lower carbon emissions than the building regulations.  This would prevent cities from reaching their own zero carbon targets as well as send more ambitious cities backwards compared to what they are achieving today.

In March 2019, Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham announced that the GM Spatial Framework would require all “new development to be net zero carbon by 2028.”

Ahead of the local elections in May 2019 we asked candidates in Greater Manchester if they supported “the introduction of a zero-carbon standard for all new buildings in Greater Manchester from 2021?”

There was support for this from local council candidates from all political parties with 94% of candidates who responded supporting this measure. See graph below.

From responses to the Manchester Friends of the Earth survey of local election candidates

If Government Ministers go ahead with the suggested amendment to the Planning and Energy Act 2008 this would block Greater Manchester from requiring developers to build houses that would be more energy efficient to help reduce climate-wrecking emissions.

Tell the Government to introduce building standards that meet the climate emergency.

1. Write to your Member of Parliament: Ask them to respond to the consultation and raise your concerns. (pdf).

You can find contact details for your MP by popping your postcode into the Write to Them website and you can see if your MP signed the Friends of the Earth Climate Pledge (and remind them if they did!)

2. Send a brief consultation response via the Action Network: The Future Homes Standard – Demand zero carbon building standards…

If you would like to send a more detailed response or would like more information please see below.

More information

London Energy Transition Initiative – for those that would like to make more detailed responses to the consultation LETI have produced a detailed briefing document and a comprehensive response. They also have draft letters to MPs and suggested social media messages.

See also:

The Future Homes Standard consultation can be found here. It is open to responses until  23:45 on 7th February.

Responses to the consultation questions can be submitted by online survey, by post to: Future Homes Standard Consultation, 2SW, Fry Building, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF or by email to: FutureHomesStandardConsultation@communities.gov.uk

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