Future Home Standards: Proposed changes to Part L (conservation of fuel and power) and Part F (ventilation) of the Building Regulations for new buildings

On 7 February 2020, the Government‘s consultation period for changes to Part L and Part F of the Building Regulations closed. The proposal is comprised of two parts:

  1. revisions to Part L and F standards proposed for 2020 – the Government estimates  that they will come into effect in mid/late 2020
  2. 2025 Future Home standard – future-proofed with low carbon heating houses and world-leading levels of energy efficiency

The Government’s aim is to regulate and raise energy efficiency standards while simplifying the structure and content of the government’s guidance by 2025.  While the amendments to Part F are designed to implement new guidance to reduce the level of external air pollutants entering through ventilation,  the uplift to the standards relating to the Conservation of Fuel and Power (Part L) is more proactive.

The changes to Part L 2020 standards seek to prepare new dwellings to be ready for low carbon heating systems, putting forward a preferred “Fabric plus technology” option which seeks a 31% reduction in CO2 emission compared to the current standard. As such, the Government expects that an average home built in line with the 2025 standards will have 75-80% less carbon emission.

One question that has been raised is whether this will be enough to meet the 2025 goal set by the Government, let alone the 2050 net zero emission target.  As expected, there seem to have been much scepticism surrounding this plan, with RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) being quite vocal about the fact that the changes are ambiguous and too slow-paced.

An important point to note is the transitional provisions for the 2020 and 2025 uplifts which are more stringent than with past changes to the Building Regulations. The proposal is, that where a building notice, initial notice or full plans deposit have been submitted to the building control body before the uplifts come into force, the new regulations will not apply only  if  the building work is started within a reasonable period – which raises the question of what is a reasonable period. This could mean that different houses in the same development will be built to different standards.  Developers may feel pressured to build faster on their sites.

A further consultation will follow in the coming months, which will propose changes to the energy efficiency standards for non-domestic buildings and for building work to existing homes and non-domestic buildings; and on preventing overheating in buildings.  We will blog on this in due course.

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