The UK government has confirmed a ban on fossil fuel heating systems such as natural gas boilers from new homes by 2025. The ban follows a response to an initial consultation on the Future Homes Standard, which was proposed as a green standard for new build homes.
The response sets out broad proposals for ensuring that all new build properties constructed from 2025 are “zero carbon ready’”.
In line with the country’s 2050 net zero commitments, the new standards will focus on future-proofing buildings through the use of low-carbon heat technologies and improved energy efficiency. According to the government, that means no significant retrofit work on the property itself should be required for these buildings to fully eliminate their carbon emissions.
Targets and timelines
The response to Future Homes Standard consultation targets initial improvements in the energy efficiency of new homes from 2022 before rolling out more stringent demands within four years.
From next year, an “interim uplift” of housing efficiency standards for new homes will require properties to have cut carbon emissions by 31 per cent of existing standards. Details of these initial changes will be published at the end of 2021, with the aim that they will come into effect from June 2022.
Housing minister Christopher Pincher claimed that the standards would cut at least 75 per cent of emissions from current levels.
While technical details of the Future Homes Standard are not provided in the document itself, a separate consultation will be launched on the exact requirements for building specialists in 2023. The standards will be introduced into law by 2024 ahead of their planned launch by 2025.
Accepting challenges and solutions
The government’s response reflects the commitment to ensure that both the supply chain and the basic levels of industry skills are able to meet the requirements of the Future Homes Standard within the next four years.
This also acknowledges the ongoing challenges that HVAC practitioners face in recruitment and training when implementing low-carbon heating solutions and bringing homes in line with revised efficiency requirements.
Of the multiple heating technologies required to replace the fossil fuel systems, heat pumps are specified in the document as the prevalent solution for new build homes. Heat networks were also highlighted as an important solution for scaling up low-carbon heating to serve towns and cities.
In its response, the government also accepted the argument for designing new buildings with energy-efficient materials that can ensure thermal comfort in a property.