The Committee on Climate Change says proposals for the Future Homes Standard and changes to UK building regulations are “important steps, but they do not go far enough to reduce carbon emissions or address the key climate risks facing the UK”.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) has released its proposals for the Future Homes Standard, which would mean that, by 2025, no new homes will be built with gas boilers. Part L of the Building Regulations would also be tightened later this year.
The CCC has submitted its own recommendations on the proposals in a letter sent by Lord Deben, Chairman of the CCC, and Baroness Brown, Chair of the CCC’s Adaptation Committee, to Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
According to the CCC, making a new home genuinely zero-carbon at the outset is around five times cheaper than retrofitting it later, and will almost always reduce residents’ energy bills.
The CCC says the full definition of the Future Homes Standard should be set now, and legislated ahead of 2024, to give market certainty. The Committee also suggested MHCLG considers bringing forward the date for introducing the Future Homes Standard – noting that Scotland plans to introduce equivalent standards a year earlier.
The letter warns that, without an adequate replacement for the Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard, homes could see bills that are 50% higher than under current standards. The Committee believes ultra-energy efficient homes are achievable by 2025 and highly beneficial, but that the ambition to achieve this must be set out now to enable the rapid upskilling of the current workforce.
It also expressed concerns that the proposed Future Homes Standard could be interpreted in such a way that onsite renewables, such as solar PV, could act as an offset to continued fossil fuel use. The Future Homes Standard must also set a framework for assessing the significant emissions in buildings materials.
Where local authorities and cities wish to set more stringent or earlier targets, the CCC believes they should be allowed to do so.
The CCC is also urging MHCLG to address fundamental issues around compliance and performance, with a shift towards monitoring actual energy consumption and broadening the current buildings safety work programme beyond its focus on fire safety. The letter says this must also build on proposals for tightening planning loopholes, along with further documentation, widespread testing and adequate funding for Building Control Bodies.
The Committee added: “Unless fabric efficiency, overheating and ventilation are considered jointly when retrofitting or building new homes, there is a high risk that poor ventilation and air-tightness will lead to overheating and poor indoor air quality. Proposals are needed to address growing risks of flooding and water stress.”