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What Difference Does it Make? Discussing the pros and cons of the Future Homes Standard

By Sonia Travis, Commercial Sales Manager

Overlooking the ever-changing Manchester skyline, you can’t help but be struck by the city’s quickening pace of development, but also the environmental challenges that come with such progress, particularly carbon reduction from construction and the new buildings being built.

On a rainy Tuesday morning in late January, myself and Craig Greenwood, NorDan UK’s new Managing Director, were joined by eight building industry thought-leaders to discuss the Government’s forthcoming Future Homes Standard (FHS).

Surveying the rooftops from our tenth floor vantage point, we took our places alongside NorDan UK customers Nigel Sedman, Director of Regeneration for social housing provider ForViva, and Sam Godfrey, Senior Design Manager with construction firm Eric Wright Construction.

We were joined by Heather Mason, Senior Architect from architects Buttress, and Simon Hourihan, Project Director from contractor Muse, as well as Daniel Roberts, Development Director from property management company Glenbrook, and Ben McCartney, Partner at construction and property consultancy Gardiner & Theobald. Dan Whelan, of northern property website Place North West, was the chair for an interesting and insightful roundtable.

Developed to improve the environmental performance of new homes, it’s hoped the Future Homes Standard will make new residential property more sustainable by reducing operational carbon emissions.

The evolving new Standards are part of the Government's commitment to becoming net-zero carbon by 2050, and the suggested changes include higher energy efficiency standards and a focus on low-carbon heating systems.

The new regulations are set to come into effect in 2025, following interim uplift regulations that came into force in June 2022, with the Government currently consulting with the industry on the proposed Standards.

The timing could not have been better to bring the industry together and get the views and input of leaders on the potential impact of the regulations.

The roundtable discussion was filmed by Place North, who had the unenviable task of editing a wide-ranging discussion into a punchy ten-minute video.

Some of the topics covered included:

  • Is the FHS changing how the industry is valuing whole lifespan of building materials?
  • Are supply chains ready for the FHS?
  • Does the FHS go far enough? Should industry aspirations be higher?
  • Should the assessment and reduction of embodied carbon be included in the FHS?

The roundtable delegates were quick to point out that the proposed the Future Homes Standard presents both a challenge and an opportunity for suppliers and builders. Some will be well placed to support the changing needs of customers following the introduction of the new Standard, while others will have to adapt their products and pricing to meet new demands.

For example, NorDan UK has a particular interest in increasing home insulation and U-values as it is already having a noticeable impact on specifying and demand on the windows and doors market, bringing higher-quality and better-performing building products into the mainstream.

Two years ago, the maximum allowable U-value for windows stood at 1.6W/m2K, but this increased to 1.2W/m2K in June last year, and it is likely to move to 0.8W/m2K in 2025 post industry consultation as part of the new Standard.

The general consensus was that anything that promoted higher standards in insulation and quality is a good thing, although there were questions about the ambition of some of the Government’s proposed targets, perhaps not going far enough, particularly when compared to existing higher standards such as Passivhaus.

Another theme during the discussion was the fact that the Future Homes Standard takes no account of embodied carbon during the construction and manufacturing process, which has a significant impact on the environment but currently remains unregulated and at the discretion of the industry.

This means that some local authorities, such as Leeds or Reading City Councils, for example, are already outflanking the proposed new Standard with their own whole life carbon focus guidelines.

The discussion highlighted that, as well as reducing carbon, making homes more energy and carbon efficient will also deliver social and financial value, particularly for social housing and lower-income residents, who will benefit from warmer homes and lower bills.

That’s a flavour of the conversation, but you can watch the short six-minute video to see some of the other important topics covered and interesting opinions shared here. Reflecting on the discussion, I was struck by how passionate and engaged people were on the subject, and I personally found the whole experience very positive.

Thank you to everyone who participated, who I hope enjoyed the event as much as I did. A particular thank you to Place North Deputy Editor, Dan Whelan, who skilfully managed the discussion.

Watch the Place North summery video.

To find out more about NorDan’s window and doors.

Sonia Travis is the Commercial Sales Manager for NorDan UK in the North of England


Feb 15, 2024
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