Future Homes Standard – Implications of Proposed Changes to Building Regulations

The Future Homes Standard will be implicated in 2025 to deliver homes that are ‘zero carbon ready’ without relying on fossil fuel heat sources. Interim changes leading up to this target will apply from 2022 to produce 31% less CO2 emissions compared to present building regulations standards.

affordable housing architecture project

These are welcome changes and show that the building industry is moving in the right direction. However, the delivery of these targets will rely heavily on the readiness of the industry to meet the technical standards required to achieve this.

The reality is that the standards already exist in the industry and, if you understand them, they are easy to achieve. In our view at AK Architects its more of a long overdue ‘catching up’ of the industry.

Industry skills gap

The challenge, though, is the industry skills gap in both the energy efficient building fabric requirements and how this ties up with the likely increase in heat pump and solar PV installations. This highlights, therefore, the importance of the transitional arrangements to getting net-zero ready as soon as possible.

By the very nature of our training, I believe all architects should have the skills and training to be able to adapt to the needs of the future.

However, in terms of the skills of architects, there are a handful of very good practices and individuals out there who should be able to adapt quickly, or already have the established skills and experience required to make sure this transition can be delivered smoothly. I know a few of them and have a great deal of respect for such practices.

AK Architects is one of those practices. More importantly than ‘gaining’ the skills during this transitional period, in what is likely to be a ‘reactive’ process to the changes, is to have both the skills and experience already established in order to transition smoothly.

We also work with established supply chains that are already transitioned in line with the requirements and the pricing has come down to reflect this established efficiency.

Zero carbon development opportunities 

The Future Homes Standard presents a huge opportunity here for larger UK organisations of house builders and consultancies recognize the resources and skills available to them, from what tend to be the smaller organisations, like AK Architects, who have been leading in zero carbon development for years.

With this in mind, we are very pleased to have been successfully working with Arcadis on recent housing projects, and are experiencing first hand the benefits of such collaborations.

Alongside this, there are huge new opportunities for the delivery of housing through the route of ‘Community Ownership’ under ‘not for profit’ viability models. This is another key aspect of brining forward zero carbon development, where we are effectively reviewing the traditional procurement model and placing these choices in the hands of Charitable Community Benefit Societies.

Please see our next blog on the work we are doing on such schemes, and the positive changes this is bringing forward.

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