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Setting up our own standard for new homes

Jonathan Rickard explains how and why Abri is launching its own environmental performance standard for its new homes and how it will be implemented

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Abri has set up its own green standard for building new homes (picture: Getty)
Abri has set up its own green standard for building new homes (picture: Getty)
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.@jrickard2013 on setting green standards for new social home, instead of waiting for the government #UKhousing

“We’re responsible for building a legacy of new homes that will not become the retrofit projects of the future,” says @jrickard2013 #UKhousing

From 2025, all new homes in England will be greener, warmer and more affordable for people to heat.

The welcome introduction of the Future Homes Standard will see carbon emissions cut by 75% to 80% in all homes built from 2025, and is an essential step in the UK reaching its 2050 net zero target. New homes will be built to higher environmental standards and fitted with low-carbon forms of heating.

With the building and construction industry currently responsible for 39% of all global carbon emissions, things needed to change.

While the construction industry is gearing up to meet the new standard in less than four years’ time, it raises the challenge of what happens to the homes built in the interim.

How can we keep delivering much-needed homes at pace during a housing crisis, but also ‘mind the gap’ and avoid interim homes becoming retrofit projects further down the line?


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One of Abri’s strategic objectives recognises that climate change is the “challenge of our generation” and we’ve committed to making sure our homes are future-proofed and sustainable for our customers and communities for the long term.

We’re responsible for building a legacy of new homes that will not become the retrofit projects of the future – homes that have considered both upfront and operational carbon emissions but also the impact on the health and well-being of our customers and communities.

“We’ll use the Abri standard to decide the best approach for each new housing development to make sure the homes are focused on the benefits to our customers, as well as the planet”

Against the background of delivering new homes at pace in a competitive market, it’s also recognised that some of the current solutions for clean heat remain fairly expensive to run and that supply chains, reliability and skills within the sector for both installation on ongoing maintenance are still a little way behind aspiration.

As a sector, while we’re collectively keen to assist in driving demand for clean energy solutions and tackling climate change, we’re also mindful of our core purpose in providing affordable homes and avoiding fuel poverty.

To understand how best to meet the Future Homes Standard while making sure we also ‘mind the gap’ in the interim, we developed the Abri ‘future homes standard’.

Produced in consultation with a range of experts from mechanical and engineering, cost, sustainability and architecture backgrounds, the Abri standard sets out how we can achieve the proposed base government ‘Future Home’ specification but also introduce a further two models that take Abri’s standard beyond the government model.

“We will look to provide as much of the Future Homes Standard as is financially possible or implement future-proofing measures that will save upgrading costs over the lifetime of the property”

Launching shortly, we’ll use the Abri standard to decide the best approach for each new housing development to make sure the homes are focused on the benefits to our customers, as well as the planet. It will also make sure homes built in the interim are carefully designed and future-proofed, minding the gap.

Our standard sets out a ‘hierarchy’ of approach to provide houses with a carbon emissions reduction ranging from 75% betterment for the Future Homes Standard model, to 83% for the Abri ‘Plus’ model and 85% for the Abri ‘Gold’ model. The approach is as follows:

  • First, and most importantly, the Abri standard makes sure we’re prioritising a fabric-first approach. This will make sure new homes optimise performance, reduce energy demand, will not require future upgrades and are fit for purpose from the outset
  • Second, we’re making sure the infrastructure for low-carbon energy generation within the home is installed from the outset, enabling future low-carbon heat to be easily incorporated on a ‘plug and play’ basis
  • Third, energy generation is delivered through sustainable and renewable means that can be easily retrofitted or upgraded within the homes at minimum cost and disturbance to the customers
  • Fourth, homes are designed to reduce operational and embodied carbon
  • Lastly, that by 2050 all our homes achieve a near zero carbon level with any resulting energy demand using decarbonised supply from the grid

The standard also looks to improve on the government steps leading up to 2025 by the introduction of an ‘interim model home’, where we will look to provide as much of the Future Homes Standard as is financially possible or implement future-proofing measures that will save upgrading costs over the lifetime of the property.

Within the structure above, our challenge is to ensure we reduce the energy demand, ensure homes are comfortable and sustainable, and do not create an additional financial, carbon or well-being burden on our customers or the planet.

Jonathan Rickard, head of sustainability and design, Abri

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