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Whatever happened to the Future Homes Standard?

29 Oct 2020

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Whatever happened to the Future Homes Standard?

If you can remember back to a time before Covid, and lockdown, and Boris at the helm, you may remember an ambitious goal set by the then Chancellor.

It was Phillip Hammond who announced that fossil fuel heating would be banned in new dwellings from 2025.

This was our first glimpse at the Future Homes Standard – an ambitious project with the aim of drastically cutting the energy use and carbon emissions generated from new buildings in England.

The Government’s plan was (and still is) to give itself a six year window to re-write the rules on energy efficiency targets, to push new build developments away from reliance on gas and oil, and to ensure new homes are comfortable to live in by setting targets for air quality and internal summer temperatures.

But then Brexit got in the way. More specifically, Theresa May’s Brexit negotiations got in the way. May became Johnson, and with him a fresh-faced cabinet to pick up where the others had left off.

Fortunately, initial work on the Future Homes Standard had been rolling along in the background, and within weeks of this political changeover, MHCLG (Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government) released the first draft of the Future Homes Standard.

It was frustratingly incomplete, but it gave the industry some insight into what was to come. We learnt there would be two parts to FHS. The full implementation in 2025 would be bridged by an update in 2020.

This first update would set the stall for encouraging heat pumps over gas boilers, it would push more developers to install PV panels, it would introduce new targets looking at fuel bills and energy use.

At the turn of the year, a public consultation into this document was closed so MHCLG – under the reign of political youngster Robert Jenrick, could review public feedback and use this to create a new set of Building Regulations.

And that was the last we heard of the Future Homes Standard.

The next stage was due in early 2020; the Government was going to release a follow-up consultation to cover the bits they’d missed the first time, such as the energy efficiency of non-residential buildings and building work on existing homes. There was also talk of new legislation to target overheating. We’re still waiting on those documents.

And ten months after the first consultation closed, the questionnaire results and Government responses have not yet been released.

To be fair, the Government has had to deal with [points vaguely at 2020]. Civil servants from across all parts of Whitehall have been pulled together to work on emergency Covid laws, data gathering, planning and making PowerPoints for daily briefings.

So FHS may have stalled, but it has not been forgotten about.

In Robert Jenrick’s recent publication on planning reform, he confirms that news of the Future Homes Standard will be released in the autumn of 2020.

And just last week this was reiterated in the rather catchily titled ‘The Government Response to the Committee on Climate Change’s 2020 Progress Report to Parliament’ which points to an autumn release and an implementation date ‘in the shortest timeframe possible’.

The six year goal to phase out gas boilers in new dwellings is 18 months down the road, and despite the ‘shortest timeframe possible’ attitude, we still have no confirmed legislative changes.

So we could be just days away from knowing how the UK will be building new homes this time next year. Emphasis on ‘could’.

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Author

Jon Ponting

Energy And Sustainability Specialist

Email

Jon Ponting

Energy And Sustainability Specialist

jonp@energistuk.co.uk
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