Changes to building regulations: achieving net zero carbon homes

16 June 2022

Housebuilders have a huge challenge ahead to meet new environmental standards which came into effect on 15 June – as well as more ambitious targets by 2025.

Here Raj Flora-Seehra, Senior Associate in our commercial property team, looks at the impacts of Part L Building Regulations changes.

With the Government’s commitment to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, the changes to the Part L Building Regulations (“Part L”) have been introduced as a step towards achieving net zero carbon homes.

Part L sets out an ambitious target of reducing CO2 for dwellings by 31% and came into effect on June 15 2022. The construction of new dwellings after this date must comply with the increased energy performance standards.

What has changed?

Part L, published in December 2021, focusses on increased energy performance standards in new dwellings. The changes have been introduced as a result of the Future Homes Standard 2019 Consultation, a two-stage consultation to establish whether and how the pathway to net zero could be accelerated.

The Part L changes are interim measures which have been introduced in the lead up to the Future Home and Buildings Standards being introduced in 2025 (“2025 Standards”), which will require more significant cuts to carbon emissions, when all new dwellings will need to reduce emissions by at least 75% and the use of fossil fuel-based heating will be banned.

Part L deals with the conservation of fuel and power for all new dwellings and will have an impact on the construction of new homes to ensure they are built to a minimum standard of energy performance. This will apply on a plot-by-plot basis, as opposed to the whole of a development. A brief summary of the Part L changes are:

  • Carbon emissions from new dwellings will need to reduce by at least 31%.
  • New dwellings will adopt the “Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard” to measure energy efficiency, to ensure that building fabric is improved and to discourage the use of excessive and inappropriate low carbon or renewable trade-offs, which have limited life spans. Getting the building fabric right will save energy through the life span of a new dwelling.
  • There will be a maximum flow temperature requirement of 55°C for new and replacement heating systems, as part of the Part L uplift.
  • An appendix has been included in Part L which sets out a good practice specification for a home built with a heat pump.

Some other noteworthy changes that were introduced on June 15 2022 is be the requirement to install electric car charging points for all new dwellings (Part S of the Building Regulations) and to lessen the risk of overheating in new homes by taking steps such as setting maximum limits to the amount of glazing on new dwellings (Part O of the Building Regulations).

Working towards net zero

Many developers are a step ahead of the Part L changes and are in the process of implementing new technologies and fabrics to their developments. Some developers have even built “concept homes” to utilise and test new technologies to help conceptualise what zero carbon homes will look like in the future. Some of the technologies/advancements being tested and utilised are:

  • Infrared heating – which detects movement in utilised rooms and heats those rooms using zero carbon heating. 
  • Air power showers – reducing water usage.
  • Lighting – activated by movement to reduce electricity wastage.
  • Boilers – installing low carbon heating options, such as heat pump systems.
  • Heated skirting boards - which deliver 10% more heat than a traditional radiator, whilst also saving space.
  • Fridge technology - which keeps the fridge at the correct humidity to ensure food stays fresher for longer.


Whilst there’s some work to do in establishing suitable technologies and building fabric that comply with Part L and the 2025 Standards, this is an exciting change for the housebuilding sector and one which will change how we live now and in the future.

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