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The Future Homes and Buildings Standards: 2023 consultation

Solar Energy UK strongly supports the overarching goal of the Future Homes and Building Standard, set out by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), which is for all new homes and buildings to be zero-carbon ready in line with the decarbonisation of the electricity grid by 2035.

To meet the UK’s legally binding commitment to achieve a net zero economy by 2050 and the Government’s 70GW by 2035 target, it will need a near-complete decarbonisation of UK housing stock. In practice this means that all new homes should be built with the highest possible energy efficiency standards. Homes should be net zero ready and fitted with all the necessary low carbon technologies such as solar panels and clean heating options like heat pumps.

The benefits of deploying solar on new builds have been clearly stated by the Department in the consultation itself, but to reiterate – solar delivers energy efficient, decarbonised and affordable homes and buildings. DLUHC’s consultation shows that the installation of solar could help homeowners of a typical new build home save between £910 and £2,120 a year, thereby helping mitigate the impact of the energy crisis and reducing fuel poverty. To maximise the number of homes which would benefit from such savings, it is vital that DLUHC enforces stringent building regulations which mandate the deployment of solar.

For this reason, Solar Energy UK endorses an amended Option 1 of the notional building standard, which is line with the Department’s own preferences. This option includes solar panels that cover a roof area equivalent to 40% of the ground floor area of the home, but caveated with a consideration for the roof design, and onsite clean heat generation. Having said this, it is vital for net zero that we maximise the deployment of solar on all new homes, thus we would welcome any amendments to ensure that it is practical for solar to be accommodated on all homes.

The case for mandating solar is particularly prudent given the significant expected increase in power demand as the UK begins to electrify heat and transportation and the current grid constraints faced by those seeking to install solar on buildings. All homes, including new builds, will need to help meet some of their power and heat demand.