Building regulations and energy: UK Government has announced ambitious plans to improve the efficiency of homes and businesses


  • Building safety

19 February 2021

To help meet its legal commitment to bring the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, the Government has outlined significant and extensive changes to energy and ventilation standards for both domestic and non-domestic buildings.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published its COVID-delayed response to the consultation on the Future Homes Standard, which looked at changes to Part L (conservation of fuel and power) and Part F (ventilation) of the Building Regulations for new dwellings.

At the same time it has also announced a second consultation on the changes - The Future Buildings Standard - with new proposals to improve energy efficiency in non-domestic buildings and dwellings, as well as overheating in new residential buildings (including non-domestic buildings which provide residential accommodation, such as schools, care homes and halls of residence).

These plans include interim uplifts to the energy efficiency and ventilation of new non-domestic buildings to be introduced later in 2021, leading to the introduction of the Future Buildings Standard from 2025. Areas covered by the proposals include:

  • reducing the carbon emissions of new non-domestic buildings by an average of 27% from 2021 (recognising that some buildings, such as hospitals, are harder to decarbonise than others) and aiming for them to be ‘zero-carbon ready’ by 2025
  • introducing a new overheating mitigation requirement in 2021 for new non-domestic buildings classed as residential
  • improvements to standards when work is carried out in existing non-domestic buildings
  • reconsulting on the Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard and other building services standards for new homes
  • requiring new non-domestic buildings with a heating or air-conditioning system with an effective rated output over 290kW to be fitted with building automation and control systems
  • mandating building energy forecast calculations to provide building occupiers with predicted energy usage figures and improving sub-metering to enable better understanding of energy use
  • reducing the risk of disease transmission via aerosols in non-domestic buildings through new ventilation standards.

These Government proposals are arguably overdue in bringing building energy regulations up to date with the progress to zero-carbon already made by some public bodies, commercial developers and client organisations in the sector. However, taken as a whole, they offer the opportunity for a more integrated approach to delivering highly energy-efficient, low carbon buildings fit for the future.

IWFM will be reviewing the plans in detail and will consult with relevant stakeholders and members of our Special Interest Groups before responding to the consultation, which is open until 13 April 2021.

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