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19 Feb 2024

The Future Homes Built in Masonry

By Steve Callow, Masonry and Concrete Products Manager, MPA Masonry

An early Christmas present for those in the housing sector was the governments publication of consultation plans for achieving the Future Homes Standard. The consultation looks at a range of proposals, including new performance requirements and options to reduce running costs. Consultations of this type are important to allow industry to provide feedback on both practical implementation and economic impact. All the new requirements of the Future Homes Standard must be balanced against built costs and factor in analysis of existing measures and the real-world performance of homes.

The Government intends to publish the new future homes regulations and associated guidance in 2024, with the standards coming into force from 2025. Importantly for the masonry sector, the guidance will influence decisions on building fabric choices. With much of the proposed change focused on M&E, HVAC, Home Energy Model (HEM) and other operational issues, masonry must show that in all scenarios a fabric first approach enables easier design choices in other areas. For those wishing to respond, the deadline for responses is the 6th of March 2024, and applies to buildings in England only.

A balancing act

The performance requirements of the standard are all designed around ‘balance’ – balancing the need to reduce costs for residents, reduce operational carbon emissions, be cost effective and deliverable with local supply chains and skills, as well as ensuring dwellings are resilient, safe and comfortable. The performance requirements aren’t one size fits all either, they consider technologies best suited to each building type, be that houses, low-rise flats and mid- to high-rise flats each potentially requiring different approaches.

Although large parts of the standard focus on mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) and the need to move away from gas boilers, there are important elements for those delivering the building fabric. The performance requirements in this consultation closely resemble the fabric standards in the 2021 Part L uplift to the Building Regulations. The changes to Part L and the requirements of the Future Homes Standard seek an improvement in airtightness. This improvement in airtightness is important to building energy efficient homes, especially pertinent with energy bills playing a key role in the current cost of living crisis.

An industry ahead of the curve

Recognising the importance of thermal efficiency, the Masonry industry has already come together to produce a free and easy to use resource for designers known as Recognised Construction Details (RCD). The independently assessed thermal junction details contained within the database have been certified for use in demonstrating compliance with Part L of the Building Regulations. Recognised Construction Details is a project commissioned by members of MPA Masonry and delivered by the Building Alliance and architects Studio Partington. To access this resource visit:

The sector’s forward-thinking approach doesn’t end there, with the masonry industry working closely with key organisations such as the Future Homes Hub

In close collaboration with housing developers and other industry partners a number of exemplar developments have already been completed which meet and even exceed the requirements of the forthcoming Future Homes Standard. One of the best examples of masonry solutions comfortably meeting future homes standard requirements is Project 80, a housing development in Birmingham.

Project 80, built by developer Midland Heart was able to deliver high-performing, energy-efficient and eco-friendly homes, which expect to produce a 75 to 80% reduction in carbon emissions compared to currently accepted levels. The Future Homes Standard covers a wide range of criteria and the developer had to carefully plan every aspect of the build to ensure the lowest whole-life carbon performance. While focusing on the operational carbon as targeted by the standard, further consideration was given to wider environmental impacts, from the materials chosen and systems specified, through to the machinery used on-site and the fixtures, fittings and finishes in the property. Ongoing studies of the development and its outputs will provide key industry data on expected and actual performance.

If you want to know more about how Project 80 met the Future Homes Standard a full case study can be found here:

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