“The UK has set in law a target to bring all its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 – one of the most ambitious targets in the world. Homes – both new and existing – account for 20% of emissions. Despite progress reducing emissions from homes, we need to go much further.” Government introduction to Future Homes Consultation 2019
The Government’s new Future Homes Standard is set to be a key part of the construction industry’s framework going forward, underpinning the planned green recovery of the housebuilding market in particular.
With new cuts in emissions of up to 80% required and a ‘fabric first’ approach, the Standard will be the guiding principle of new housebuilding in the future.
A full technical specification for the Future Homes Standard will be consulted on in 2023, with the necessary legislation introduced in 2024, ahead of implementation in 2025. Following earlier consultation, there will be an interim uplift in standards, published in December 2021, and coming into force in June next year. This will be delivered through an amendment to Part L of the Building Regulations which sets the standards for the energy performance and carbon emissions of new and existing buildings.
It will become a requirement for housebuilders to build well-insulated homes, in which on-site renewable energy sources cannot be used to offset inadequate insulation at the construction phase. The Government is proposing target u-values of 0.15 for external walls and 0.11 for floors from 2025.
JACKON is ready for these changes and is in fact arguing for them to be even more rigorous. The new targets are not a problem, since JACKON’s THERMOMUR 350 Super range – currently the company’s best-selling range in the UK – already achieves 0.15 for walls with no added materials, and the JACKODUR ATLAS system can be designed to achieve 0.11.
JACKON brings its 60 years’ expertise in EPS (moulded expanded polystyrene) and XPS (extruded polystyrene) manufacturing to this market. It has two complementary systems, JACKODUR ATLAS which uses XPS (extruded polystyrene) to create an insulated floor slab and THERMOMUR ICF which uses EPS (moulded expanded polystyrene) to create the formwork.
ICF is a modern construction method, which is widely used in Europe and North America, but is still relatively new in the UK. It integrates insulation materials into the concrete formwork, totally revolutionising the way a house is constructed.
As well as being easier and quicker to build, an ICF house provides massive advantages during the life of a building. These include: dramatically improved insulation and air tightness leading to reduced expenditure on heating or cooling; excellent acoustic performance; fire resistance; enhanced resilience to flood, extreme weather and seismic activity; rot and vermin resistance; versatility with regard to remodelling; minimal maintenance requirement; mortgage, insurance and planning acceptance.
The new Future Homes Standard surpasses the Passive House Standard in some areas – and the JACKON building systems comfortably exceed this. However on airtightness, the proposed Standard is for an ‘as-built air permeability’ of 5m³/(h.m²) @ 50Pa but JACKON believes a much lower figure is required.
In Scandinavia, the home of JACKON’s THERMOMUR ICF system, the air permeability standard is 0.6 – almost ten times better than that being proposed for the UK! So rigorous a target would be a challenge for conventional construction in brick and block or for timber frame structures, but this is an easy target for ICF systems and JACKON believes this is a missed opportunity in the development of this new standard.
“Over the coming two years, we expect to see a lot of manufacturers struggling to reach the new target u-values,” says Colin Higham, Managing Director of JACKON UK Ltd. “However, we’re already there and can offer our customers innovative, ready-to-use building systems, which meet all the relevant standards – past, present and future – including the Future Homes Standard. We currently view it as a wasted opportunity that the Standard on airtightness is not being tightened up, as we believe that this is an ideal opportunity to improve the energy efficiency of modern houses still further. In third party testing we achieved 0.4 without significant additional measures around windows and doors so we are confident that JACKON building systems would perform strongly against a more rigorous Future Homes standard.”