The Future Buildings Standard: consultation response

Published: 23 April 2021

Heating and powering buildings currently account for 40% of the UK’s total energy usage. The UK has set in law a target to bring its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 – one of the most ambitious targets in the world. We must ensure that standards, both in energy efficiency and in overheating, as determined by the Building Regulations, are ambitious enough to put us on the right track to meet the 2050 target and to adapt to rising temperatures over the coming years.

This consultation is the second stage of our two-part consultation on proposed changes to Part L (Conservation of fuel and power) and Part F (ventilation) of the Building Regulations, as well as addressing overheating in residential buildings. It also covers the future of non-domestic standards through the Future Buildings Standard, which will deliver highly efficient non-domestic buildings which use low-carbon heat, ensuring they are better for the environment and fit for the future.

Key points

Energy Systems Catapult broadly supports the proposals to uplift energy and ventilation standards (Part L and Part F) for new and existing non-domestic buildings, as well as building on proposals for existing homes.

We welcome these measures as necessary steps towards future-proofing the UK’s buildings in preparation for low carbon heating and high levels of energy efficiency, but we would urge Government to consider some important factors in developing its future policy proposals.

  • Energy Systems Catapult broadly agrees with proposals to uplift energy standards through Part L of the Building Regulations for both new and existing buildings which could act as part of a wider package of policy drivers to support zero carbon buildings. Our Thought Leadership policy work Six Steps to Zero Carbon Buildings highlights the need for a long-term market framework that affects different actors in order to drive building decarbonisation at scale.
  • The intent shown by the government is welcomed, and the interim changes to Part L and F are vital measures in the short term to provide the necessary step change to build up supply chain and skills capacity before the full implementation of the Future Buildings Standard in 2025.
  • Crucially, the UK does not yet have the skills and capacity required to deliver the green jobs required to meet our Net Zero target. The buildings sector will need to attract both new entrants, upskill current professionals and develop new working practices in line with these proposals. It is important to help markets develop in a way that builds up supply chains and develops skills overtime to drive
    solutions that the UK needs.
  • Net Zero considerations must be at the heart of the future energy system, with innovation playing a pivotal role in the future energy mix. A broad range of technologies should be encouraged to avoid over-reliance on one type of technology where other low carbon solutions may be more appropriate or cost-effective. Our work on Local Area Energy Planning can help guide local decision-makers on choices for future local energy systems.