Future Homes Standard: what will be in it?

Thermal imaging of a house

The chancellor’s announcement of a new green housing target sounded big on ambition, but light on detail. What could it involve?

Ever since the government decided in 2015 to scrap Labour’s zero-carbon homes target, proponents of green building have been saying – and desperately hoping – that it was only a matter of time before it was forced to take a U-turn. Such is the logic of the carbon emissions reductions the government is signed up to, and EU rules due to come into force – whatever happens with Brexit.

Last week, these predictions came true. Chancellor Philip Hammond announced the creation of a Future Homes Standard by 2025, pledging an end to gas heating in homes by that date. And though the government may be as stable as a house of cards in an earthquake, few think this agenda will go away with a change in political leadership. Details may be thin on the ground but, a month after a hard-hitting Committee on Climate Change (CCC) report on the housebuilding industry, many sense a significant shift in the direction of travel.

Of course this is Groundhog Day for an industry that devoted a huge amount of – ultimately wasted – effort on preparing for a 2016 target that never came. “It looks like the same situation we faced in 2006, when zero carbon was first announced,” says John Slaughter, director of external affairs at the Home Builders Federation. “A policy has been announced but now we’ve got to work out the detail behind it. It’s going to be a challenge and a big area of work.”

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