Future Buildings Standard explained

12 October 2021 Kingspan Insulation UK

As part of its strategy to reach net zero carbon across the UK by 2050, the Government has announced it intends to tighten the Part L (energy) Building Regulation requirements for new non-domestic properties twice in the next 4 years. Part L 2021 for new and existing Non-Domestic Buildings are due to be published by the end of the year and implemented in June 2022. These will be followed by the Future Buildings Standard, due to be published in 2024 and implemented from 2025, which is intended to make all new non-domestic buildings ‘net-zero carbon ready’. 

In its Future Building Standards consultation, the government provided a high-level vision for what the industry can expect within the final standard.

What will buildings built to the Future Buildings Standard look like?

As with the Future Homes Standard, all buildings constructed to the standard should be “net-zero carbon ready”, meaning they require no further energy retrofit work to reach net-zero carbon performance once the energy grid is decarbonised. To achieve this, they will be built using the following principles:

•    they should achieve the best fabric standards possible. This should be judged on a case by case basis and may require designers to balance several factors, including the heating and cooling demand and daylight provision. For example, in some specific cases extremely high levels of insulation may actually raise energy demand; and
•    all heat and hot water needs will be met through low carbon sources such as heat pumps, heat networks and, to a lesser extent, direct electric heating.

This simple, fabric-first route is a sensible approach to not only cutting carbon emissions, but also ensuring that structures use energy efficiently and are affordable to operate. Further measures such as renewable technologies can easily be added to this strong foundation if a client wishes to raise performance further.

When will the Future Buildings Standard come into force?

The consultation highlighted that the range of non-domestic buildings is far more diverse than for homes. As a result, whilst the Future Building Standard is expected to be implemented in 2025, it is recognised that this may be challenging for some building types.

To support implementation, buildings are separated into three categories based on their heating and hot water demand:
  Heating demand Hot water demand
Type 1 e.g. offices, schools, retail units, public buildings, airport terminals, data centres, theatres Suitable for heat pumps Domestic demand suitable for point-of-use or heat pumps
Type 2 e.g. hotels, hospitals, other health care buildings, restaurants Suitable for heat pumps High hot water demand which is less suitable for point-of-use or heat pumps
Type 3 e.g. retail warehouses, distribution warehouses, industrial process buildings, sports halls Less suitable for heat pumps Suitable for point-of-use or heat pumps

It is expected that Type 2 buildings will require high volume, low-carbon domestic hot water production systems, which are still entering the market, whilst the large volumes within Type 3 buildings will be more suitable for radiant or spot heating. 

To support implementation, the government intends to operate two workstreams over the next few years. The first will look at measures that can be more easily adopted, including space heating within Type 1 and 2 buildings and hot water in Type 1 and 3 buildings. The second workstream will focus on the more challenging areas of hot water provision in Type 2 buildings and heating supply in Type 3.

As part of the consultation, the government asked for industry feedback on whether the heating and hot water requirements can be met by 2025 or should be held back to a later date. 

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