Future Homes: Let’s raise the bar

Future homes debate

What challenges and opportunities might the Future Homes Standard provide for the glass industry? We report from a debate held at the Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF)’s members day in September 2023.

This is a shortened version of an article from Glass and Glazing Products (GGP) Magazine. To read the full version, in the October 2023 edition of GGP, click here.

From 2025, carbon emissions in new homes will need to be up to 80% lower than the current minimum standard. Is this target largely a challenge or an opportunity for businesses in the glass industry?

On the side of opportunity, Kevin Jones, the GGF’s senior technical officer, said that the standard – when it comes into effect after the public consultation, which will run for at least 12 weeks – is “a massive opportunity to move the industry forward”. The magnitude of the opportunity is reflected by the data, he explained: “The average number of windows into new build properties is between eight and 10. That’s 3m windows alone going into new builds.”

Sticking to the data, the European Commission reported the average U-value for windows in the UK to be 2.8 W/m²K. The average for the rest of Europe is 1.8 W/m²K.

Encouragingly, Phil Brown, technical advisory service manager for NSG Group in the UK and Ireland, told attendees of the GGF members day that the UK glass industry is already capable of producing windows that meet the proposed requirements of the Future Homes Standard.

A U-value of 0.5 or 0.6 can be achieved with triple-glazed windows that have two low-E coatings and argon gas inside the units, or with thinner triple-glazed units that use krypton gas – although this is less attractive to manufacturers due to costs.

Nonetheless, all of the industry leaders on the GGF’s panel admitted that Future Homes will bring challenges for glazing designers and manufacturers when it comes into effect. Moving towards triple glazing will add costs in terms of materials, installation and logistics, said Jon Palethorpe, A Plus Aluminium’s managing director, especially when working on large-scale construction projects.

Contributing to the debate from the audience floor, Andy Jones, sales and marketing director for Silka and Apeer Doors, was upbeat about the Future Homes Standard. “People talk about triple glazing in a negative manner but it’s probably the biggest opportunity we’ve had in a long, long time,” he said, “especially in the refurbishment market.”

This is a shortened version of an article from Glass and Glazing Products (GGP) Magazine. Additional reporting by Georgia Lewis. To read the full article, in the October 2023 edition of GGP, click here.

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