Low-carbon changes to Building Regulations coming into effect in 2022

Published: April 1, 2022
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As part of the government’s plans to help the country move toward net-zero carbon emissions, building standards in England are being changed.

New homes built from June this year will need to produce around 30% fewer carbon emissions as part of changes to the Building Regulations. Other new buildings, including retail properties and offices, are also being affected, with these buildings being required to reduce carbon emissions by 27%.

This change to building regulation is significant, drastically affecting energy efficiency standards for homes in England. It is also a step toward the introduction of the Future Homes Standard, which is due in 2025.

The new Building Regulations will come into effect from 15th June 2022, with transitional arrangements in place to allow building works to adjust to the alterations.

Eddie Hughes, Housing Minister, said: “Climate change is the greatest threat we face and we must act to protect our precious planet for future generations.

“The government is doing everything it can to deliver net-zero and slashing CO2 emissions from homes and buildings is vital to achieving this commitment.

“The changes will significantly improve the energy efficiency of the buildings where we live, work and spend our free time and are an important step on our country’s journey towards a cleaner, greener built environment.”

What do the changes mean for design and construction?

Properties must now be designed with more emissions-reducing materials and technologies in mind to meet targets. This means installing low-carbon technology, such as heat pumps and solar panels, to provide cleaner power and heating options. This will help to reduce emissions while also reducing energy bills.

Residential buildings – which includes houses, apartments, student accommodation and care homes – must be designed to reduce overheating. Ventilation improvements will also need to be introduced to help improve the safety of newly-built homes and prevent the spread of airborne viruses.

The changes are designed to protect people while also future-proofing properties, raising standards and helping to create a greener built environment.

The altered regulations for new homes include:

  •  30% reduction on emissions from new homes
  • 27% reduction on new buildings
  • New homes to adopt the Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard
  • New and replacement heating systems will have a maximum flow temperature of 55°C
  • Maximum limits to the amount of glazing are being introduced on new residential buildings

The changes will also affect works being undertaken on existing homes, including:

  •  New or replacement heating systems must accept low-carbon heating in the future
  • New minimum standards for fabric efficiency

How will the new regulations be implemented?

The new regulations will come into force on 15th June 2022, however, if a building notice, initial notice or full plans for building work are submitted to a local authority before this date and building work commences by 15th June 2023, the work on that building can continue under the previous standards.

After 15th June 2022, all plans submitted must be in-line with the new regulations, meaning changes in materials and building techniques must be considered as early as possible to deliver the required reduction in carbon emissions.

As well as the changes to the Building Regulations, the government has also published five new approved documents:

The government has also published Approved Document S, which includes technical guidance on installing electric car charge points in residential properties, which is something many home buyers are looking for.

Future Homes Standard Update

The alterations to the Building Regulations were published with the government’s response to the second Future Homes Standard consultation. This response confirmed that a full technical consultation for the standard will start in 2023 ahead of the introduction of the Future Homes Standard in 2025.

This standard will mean that homes built after 2025 won’t need to be retrofitted for energy-efficient technologies or materials in order to become zero-carbon as a result of work to decarbonise the electricity grid taking place.