The Future of Homebuilding and Meeting New Standards

A lot has happened since January 2021 when the government published the outcome of the Future Homes Standard consultation, and therefore it may not be front of mind. But the details outlined are not a set of abstract requirements that may or may not come into force – changes are imminent and now is the time to consider what is coming down the track. Here Trevor Richards, Operations Director of VOLUMETRIC™, a specialist in volumetric modular housing solutions, outlines the challenges involved and makes a case for expedient action.

The Future Homes Standard outlines changes to Building Regulations Part L (conservation of fuel and power) and F (ventilation) that will ultimately come into effect in 2025 to ensure that all new homes in England are futureproofed with low-carbon heating systems and high levels of energy efficiency. These standards should ensure that all new homes will produce 75-80% less carbon emissions than houses delivered under current regulations.

As an interim step, announcements surrounding changes to Part L are expected later this year, which will come into force next year to ensure new homes built from 2022 will produce 31% less carbon emissions. Full technical specification for the Future Homes Standard will be consulted on in 2023, with the necessary legislation introduced ahead of implementation in 2025. So, change is happening and happening at pace.

We adopt a partnership approach and have worked in close collaboration with Foundation200, a charity established by housing developer Hill Group to gift 200 interim homes for rough sleepers to homeless charities and local authorities to mark the company's 20th anniversary. The team behind Foundation200 required specialist support to design and manufacture a bespoke solution - MODULHAUSâ„¢ was the outcome of much research and an extensive testing regime.

Right from the initial concept stages, the decision was reached to develop a modular solution that would exceed the Future Homes Standard to relieve the burden on local authorities of ongoing expenses associated with traditional temporary accommodation.

As ever, the devil is in the detailing and there is a lot more to achieving the Future Homes Standard than we initially considered. Not willing to compromise on our client's expected performance for the intended application, our team modelled and re-modelled our designs, with countless materials and technologies assessed and evaluated to ensure we achieved our optimum position.

Achieving the right balance was challenging. Sometimes the benefits of one solution counter-act the benefits of another, making you feel like it was one step forward, and one back. Whether it is insulating our lightweight structure to ensure the best envelope was attained, whilst arresting any potential overheating that the relative lack of thermal mass in the same lightweight structure brings or understanding which renewable technologies to use given the variability of potential site locations and restrictions. It was essential that we invested time up front to resolve these issues.

The embodied carbon assessment for MODULHAUSâ„¢ has been undertaken based on RICS and British Standard guidance and includes information from relevant Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and publicly available carbon data.

At all stages of the MODULHAUSâ„¢ system development these criteria have been assessed for the forecast 60-year whole-life embodied carbon, along with system energy use and full SAP calculations. We are currently also assessing the potential for carbon offsetting or balancing to achieve our zero- carbon target by the beginning of 2022.

Modules are factory fitted with sustainable technologies, low energy lighting and white goods together with controlled flow shower mixers and dual flush cisterns to minimise energy and water consumption.

Renewable energy technology is built into every module including Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP), and Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery (MVHR) systems. Combined with a highly airtight and well insulated structure, U-values as low as 0.09W/m²K are achieved.

This has been a massive learning curve and reaching the Future Homes Standard is simply not just a case of adding more insulation. It is far more complex than that. So, although 2025 may seem a way off, after experiencing the challenges involved first-hand, it is better to take time now and get your design and testing protocols right, than taking a risk and failing to meet the complexities involved.

VOLUMETRICâ„¢ LAUNCH MODULHAUSâ„¢ VIDEO

Ahead of MODULHAUS™ taking centre stage at Offsite Expo with a high-profile feature build – the leading offsite experts behind this ground-breaking modular homeless solution have launched an informative video.

Highlighting the plight of rough sleepers and how these innovative modular homes can provide a practical and cost-effective solution for Local Authorities, the film offers insight into the LABC Assured and BOPAS Accredited relocatable and robust one-person home. Built to the Future Homes Standard offering exceptional energy efficiency, outstanding functional performance and superior quality, MODULHAUS™ costs just £5 per week to run.

WATCH THE MODULHAUSâ„¢ VIDEO HERE: https://youtu.be/w3dh9mRuyY0


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