Are we ready for Future Homes Standards?

At a time when we are experiencing one of the biggest overhauls on Building Regulations we have ever seen in the UK, John Cooper, commercial director at Swisspacer talks about how we can start to ready ourselves for the Future Homes Standard.

There’s a lot of talk about the Future Homes Standard, but are we ready for it?

It’s being introduced to help tackle the UK’s emissions that are having a significant impact on the planet. From 2025, new-build homes must be built to ‘zero carbon ready’ standards and the CO2 emissions produced by new homes will need to be 75-80% lower than those built to existing standards.

But how close are we to being ready to meet the Government’s targets to create a greener built environment?

Some worrying statistics were released at the end of 2022, following research by The Housing Forum’s Futures Network, which brings together more than 150 organisations that represent the UK housing supply chain.

They found that one in five housing developers do not have a plan in place to meet the incoming 2025 Future Homes and Building Standards, highlighting knowledge and skills as the key hurdles that could prevent the sector achieving the targets.

The Future Homes Standard is a positive step forward for us as a nation where we have been notoriously slow in the uptake of making steps towards being carbon neutral, but there are ways that businesses can start to prepare for these future standards, even before the 2023 technical consultation and the implementation of the new standards in 2025.

Quite often, it is the smaller parts that can create significant change – one small component could even be the difference between compliance and non-compliance in the future.

A great way to start your preparations for delivering higher energy performance and lower CO2 emissions is by assessing the componentry that is used in the products you sell or install. This can give you real confidence that your products are on the right track to achieve the performance standards that are likely to come from the 2023 consultation.

Swisspacer is dedicated to delivering products that have lower CO2 emissions and have a positive impact on the performance of a window. In 2020, we commissioned a study by the Passivhaus Institute into Living Comfort, to determine the impact of spacer bars on the performance of windows, and they summarised that: ‘The choice of spacer bar has a decisive impact on the thermal quality of the window and thus on comfort and hygiene. Moreover, highly energy-efficient spacer bars made from plastic make it possible to meet the requirement with tried and tested means and low cost for the window maker.

In this way, everyone wins. The occupier of the building, who profits from greater comfort and mould-free glass edges, the window maker, who can simply improve his products and thus also increase the satisfaction of his customers. And the climate, which is relieved by the high levels of energy saved thanks to lower CO2 emissions.’

The research and test data carried out and analysed by the Passivhaus Institute was focussed on spacer bar performance and the impact it can make on the comfort of a home, and found that spacer bars really can make a significant impact on emissions and performance.

On top of the Future Homes Standard, the Building Safety Regulator is coming into play, led by the Health & Safety Executive, to ensure greater building standards and safety, so there is lots of new legislation for our sector, across both new-build and retrofit, to navigate moving forward, and much more pressure for compliance and transparency regarding the manufacture and installation of building products.

Understanding the Future Homes Standard and starting to prepare your business now could help save lots of hassle further down the line.