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George Clarke rails against the government’s slow timetable on future homes

The chancellor of the exchequer announced the Future Homes Standard in March 2019, but what is it?

Well, it’s a standard that is expected to set us on a course to reduce carbon emissions to NET-ZERO by 2050 and the government now sees housing as being a key part in that – which it should as some claim that homes account for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the UK.

The government intends to introduce in 2020 ‘a meaningful but achievable uplift to energy efficiency standards as a stepping-stone to the future homes standard’ with the intention ‘to make new homes more energy efficient and to future-proof them in readiness for low carbon heating systems’ in readiness for the introduction of a further uplift in standards in 2025.

So, a lifting of standards next year and then again in 2025 when the full Future Homes Standard is implemented.

We don’t have time for 5 years of chit chat to do what we all know is the right thing to do!

George Clarke George Clarke Architect and TV Presenter


Now, this standard is very ambitious. The government claims it will achieve a 75-80% reduction in carbon emissions compared to a home built to the current building regulations.

This will be done through very high fabric standards and low carbon heating systems, so a combination of higher levels of insulation, triple glazing in all windows (both of which we should be doing anyway!),heat pumps, heat recovery ventilation, etc, etc.

Their initial consultation seeks views on a number of things like this:

Two options to increase Part L of the building regulations.

1.   One is a 20% reduction in emissions delivered by very high fabric standards only (ie, insulation and triple glazing)

2.   The other is a 31% reduction due to a combination of carbon-saving technology (ie. solar PV panels, etc) combined with better fabric standards, but not as high as option 1 so using double glazing rather then triple glazing.

Now call me stupid, but I thought we already had to install double-glazing under the current building regs! Surely we should be doing both at maximum ecological capacity.

Improving the building fabric (triple glazing should have been introduced as standard 10 years ago!) AND installing heat pumps and panels!

Talking shop

And then there is this.

The government ‘envisage research into the Future Homes Standard to commence from 2021, alongside the establishment of an industry Taskforce, with research continuing into 2023 . . . with the intention of consulting on the implementation of the Future Homes Standard in 2024.’

REALLY? Consulting on the implementation in 2024?

It could all be too late by then!

It was urgent a year ago!

Didn’t the government listen to David Attenborough’s People’s Seat address at COP24 in Poland in December 2018?

I actually can’t believe that speech was nearly a year ago when he said:

“Right now (and he really meant RIGHT NOW!), we are facing a man-made disaster of a global scale… If we don’t take action the collapse of our civilisations and the extinctions of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”

We don’t have time for 5 years of chit chat and consultation to do what we all know is easy and is the right thing to do!

This ATNA government

I hate being so negative. Believe me I’m one of the most positive and enthusiastic people in the world.

But, for far too long, when it comes to raising building regulation standards, this government (and many before it!) have been what I’m now going to abbreviate as ATNA… ALL TALK NO ACTION!

Are we really going to spend 5 years talking about whether to install more insulation, install triple-glazing and replace our gas boilers with low carbon air-source heat pumps?

It’s too little and taking too much time.

A complete joke

And you may forgive my negativity when I tell you this.

A ZERO-CARBON HOMES POLICY was first announced by Gordon Brown in 2006. Every single new build home built in the UK by 2016 was to be zero-carbon!

That policy was completely scrapped by the Conservative party in 2015 when they won a majority government in the general election!

The policy of zero-carbon was scrapped “to reduce net regulations on housebuilders”! Rubbish!

It is 13 years since that policy was first announced by Labour. And now, 4 years after the Tories scrapped it, they announce the ‘Future Homes Standard’ as if it is something amazingly new. Oh, but they need 5 or 6 years to think about it. WHAT A COMPLETE JOKE!

I support the idea of the Future Home Standard, just as I supported the zero-carbon homes policy that Gordon Brown announced in 2006.

But, government is far too slow and far too incompetent when it comes to doing the right thing in making the changes the home building industry and the environment desperately needs to see.

We need big change and action right now.

But instead, in the politically turbulent times, we’ll just continue with ATNA!

George Clarke is an architect, writer, lecturer and TV presenter, a founder of TV production company Amazing Productions, and creative director of George Clarke + Partners.