Future-proofing UK homes in response to the climate emergency

JLL responds to the UK Government’s proposal to increase energy efficiency requirements for new homes. 

JLL has committed to net zero carbon in our UK workplaces by 2030 and will also lead the adoption of net zero carbon buildings across the whole of the UK. Using our influence and expertise, we intend to play a leadership role in helping the built environment respond with urgency and practical action to the climate emergency.

We welcome the Government’s recent proposal to significantly update Building Regulations Part L (conservation of fuel and power). Published in October 2019, the Future Homes Standard Consultation includes proposed actions to increase the energy efficiency requirements for new homes in 2020, including future-proofing with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency; set to be introduced by 2025. The consultation will impact a number of industry stakeholders, from property developers to environmental organisations and local authorities.

According to the UK Committee on Climate Change, emissions reductions from UK homes have stalled. At the same time, energy use in homes – which accounts for 14% of total UK emissions – increased between 2016 and 2017. Constructing an average UK home causes over 50 tonnes of CO2 to be emitted, the equivalent of heating an average UK home for 21 years, according to the Next Generation benchmark report released in 2019.

We support the Government’s preferred option of a 31% reduction in carbon emissions. However, if key changes are not made to the proposed Part L regulations, the required carbon emission reductions will not be delivered, leading to a less desirable outcome.  

  • The proposed standard is viable - based on JLL’s experience advising clients and the Greater London Authority’s monitoring of zero carbon home planning applications in 2018.

  • It is imperative that the Part L carbon emission and energy requirements are performance-based and that developers are accountable for the “performance gap” when homes are actually lived in. This accountability for the actual carbon performance of homes will lead to better design stage modelling and construction of homes.

  • It’s likely that in the short-term there will be a reduction in housing units supplied in the UK and potentially reduced S106 contributions. In the long-term however, production may normalise as the land market adjusts to new technical assumptions on build costs and the supply chain of low carbon building fabric, technology and skills. This assumes a robust, low carbon supply chain emerges.

  • A holistic approach is necessary to build homes that are comfortable, safe and low carbon. Compliance with carbon emissions, overheating, ventilation, average daylight factors, air quality and fire safety standards (as written and proposed) will significantly narrow the scope of housing specification to the point that it will break viability of delivery in many schemes. 

  • Demand-side incentives tied to annual monitoring, such as consumer rebates or lower stamp duties for energy efficient homes, should complement the building regulations changes through the transition phase towards a low carbon housing market. This will support the investment and innovation needed for a market based on new technologies to emerge.

 

On the whole, an ambitious national standard is required to develop the supply chain of low carbon building technology in addition to the construction, maintenance and operations skills needed to live in net zero carbon homes.

 

 

Andrew Frost
Andrew Frost
Head of Residential, EMEA

Photo credit: Jim Stephenson

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