‘Opportunities missed’ in Future Buildings Standard proposals

Institutions call for regulation of existing buildings and embodied carbon

The government has ‘missed an opportunity’ to improve existing buildings in its proposals for new energy and carbon regulations, according to CIBSE.

In its response to the Future Homes/Buildings Standard (FHS/FBS) consultation, the Institution said that, with no regulation of existing buildings, a huge part of the UK building stock’s emissions were being omitted.

Embodied carbon was also not included in the FHS/FBS, and CIBSE called on the government to come forward with proposals as soon as possible.

In a letter to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, IStructE also expressed concern that regulation of buildings’ embodied carbon has been omitted.

Patrick Hayes, technical director of IStructE, said: ‘Introducing embodied carbon regulation provides certainty, consistency and efficiency for all parties on how to meet our legal obligations.’

The letter includes a policy paper from IStructE and other major organisations (including CIBSE). It calls for political leaders to commit to reducing construction embodied carbon emissions within two years of starting a government.

The Construction Industry Council (CIC) is also disappointed that measurement of embodied carbon is not being considered as part of the consultation on the proposed standards, given that it could make up 70% of a new home’s whole life emissions.

In its response to the consultation, the CIC said it too supported post-occupancy evaluations and the use of a delivered energy metric. It also highlighted the need for a government strategy to ensure appropriate, accredited and trained professionals are available to oversee properly the installation and maintenance of energy-saving measures such as heat pumps.

In addition, the CIC’s response stresses the importance of improving standards for homes converted through permitted development, particularly on areas such as overheating.

Professor Stephen Hodder, chair of the CIC’s climate change committee, said: ‘This standard is likely to be the government’s legacy and, having waited so long, we need to ensure that we get it right, as we could be building or converting millions of homes under the proposals.’

CIBSE praised the FHS/FBS package for moving away from fossil fuels for heating and hot water in new domestic and non-domestic buildings, and for giving more attention to post-completion testing.