Paul Hutchens, leading green energy advocate, Chair of Solar Energy UK’s New Build Working Group and CEO of solar installation specialists Eco2Solar, explores the implications of the government’s latest updates to national building regulations.
The forthcoming Future Homes Standard, set to be implemented in 2025, will see the housebuilding industry take a giant leap towards helping the UK government meet its 2050 net zero target.
Through this initiative, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) aims to shrink carbon dioxide emissions in new build homes by up to 80%, compared to properties constructed under current building standards.
These future-proofed homes will be built to much higher standards of energy efficiency, with features like low carbon heating, improved insulation and ventilation and low energy lights as standard. In addition, in order to achieve Target CO2 Emission Rates (TER), new homes will also require a renewable energy source – widely expected to be cost-efficient solar PV.
While 2025 still seems quite a way off, the government’s recently published changes to Part L of the Building Regulations (the conservation of fuel and power) will act as an interim measure to pave the way towards implementing the Future Homes Standard.
The Part L Uplift to energy efficiency requirements stipulates that from 1st July 2022, all new homes in England must be built in line with the new regulations, unless planning permission has been submitted and approved before that date; a caveat that will no doubt see housebuilders seeking to lock down consent on all proposed sites before that date.
This uplift, delivered through improvements to the MHCLG’s chosen option of Fabric Plus Technology, is intended to meet an achievable target of a 31% improvement on current Part L standards through low-carbon heating, fabric increases and the use of renewable energy sources.
Crucially, this target will now apply on a per-plot basis, rather than the development site as a whole.
The next 12 months will therefore be a critical time for housebuilders; with just over a year until the Part L Uplift comes into practice, preparation will be key.
Of the 180,000 new homes built in England each year, around 10% have solar PV installed; when the new regulations come into force, it’s widely anticipated that this figure will jump to 80%, which will inevitably impact on the solar supply chain.
Housebuilders now have a short window of time to firm up their suppliers, review the quality of their materials and fill in any gaps in their workforce to ensure full Part L compliance.
With the government’s long-awaited consultation now complete, it’s now not a case of if – but when.