Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We use cookies to personalise your experience; learn more in our Privacy and Cookie Policy. You can opt out of some cookies by adjusting your browser settings; see the cookie policy for details. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies.

New homes standards do not go far enough, climate body says

  • 4 Comments

Proposals to reform Part L of the building regulations are too timid, the government’s independent committee on climate change has warned

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has written to housing secretary Robert Jenrick to say that eliminating carbon emissions from housing was one of the ‘toughest challenges’ in reaching the UK’s target of having net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

‘It is vital that we do not make that challenge harder, or worsen our preparedness for rising global temperatures, by building substandard new homes,’ committee chairman John Gummer and his colleague Julia King wrote.

On Part L, the letter stated: ‘These are important steps, but they do not go far enough to reduce carbon emissions, or address the growing risks of overheating, flooding and water stress – key climate risks facing the UK. Stronger standards will serve future occupants better.’

The government recently consulted on proposals to tighten Part L as a ‘stepping stone’ to bringing in the Future Homes Standard in 2025, which will take stronger action, such as ruling out gas boilers in new homes.

Earlier this month, climate change activists urged architects to reject the government proposals before the consultation ended on 7 February.

Now the CCC appears to be backing many of the points raised by groups such as Extinction Rebellion and the Architects Climate Action Network.

The committee’s letter pointed out that most of the new homes will still be standing in 2050, by which point the UK’s net zero target requires an end to the burning of fossil fuels in the home.

Making a new home genuinely zero-carbon at the outset is around five times cheaper than retrofitting it later

‘It obviously makes no sense to build homes that will need to be retrofitted again before 2050,’ it said. ‘Making a new home genuinely zero-carbon at the outset is around five times cheaper than retrofitting it later, and almost always will reduce residents’ energy bills, too.’

The committee also argued that, rather than waiting until 2025 to introduce the Future Homes Standard (FHS), the government should set out its full definition for the new standard now and legislate for the FHS before 2024 to give ‘market certainty’.

The committee also recommended letting councils set tougher and earlier targets if they want to – a key objection to the proposals from local authorities and from protesters at Extinction Rebellion

The government consultation set out two possible options for energy efficiency. One would deliver a 20 per cent cut in carbon emissions due to improvements in insulation, such as triple glazing.

The other would see 31 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by installing equipment such as solar panels together with tougher insulation standards – though not as tough as in the first option.

Analysis by the London Energy Transformation Initiative suggested that by 2025 all new buildings must have net zero carbon emissions to meet UK climate targets.

Clara Bagenal George, initiator of the London Energy Transformation Initiative, has claimed the proposals for Part L were ‘likely to result in a step backwards’, when what the climate emergency demands is ‘a huge leap forward’.

The climate change committee’s role is to advise the government and devolved administrations on emissions targets and report to Parliament on progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The new Part L and Part F rules are likely to be published in early to mid-2020, and to come into force in mid to late-2020.

  • 4 Comments

Readers' comments (4)

  • We should not be listening to extremists

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 'Extremists'? - if all the people who find themselves living on a flood plain and/or breathing toxic air formed a political pressure group (or joined the Green Party) would you call them extremists?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I am happy to say as a developer we need to do more to reduce our impact on the environment but when you urge members to reject findings of a consultation before the consultation has ended and sign up to ERs viewpoint who commit criminal damage as a basic act then yes extremists is the right word.

    There are plenty of great architects working hard on schemes and ideas that reduce carbon emissions both during development and during the lifespan of the building and its there work that should be promoted by the AJ instead.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anon developer,
    The point is that not every architect, developer or housebuilder is working to reduce carbon emissions, but they all need to. The proposed changes to part L were found by hundreds of experts to be inadequate and putting us on course to miss our legal obligations to reduce CO2 emissions.
    There was no law breaking in this campaign and the calls are to highlight the failings of government and advise on how to improve the regulations. I don't think many people would call that extremism.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs

Discover architecture career opportunities. Search and apply online for your dream job.
Find out more