The residential housing landscape is changing, and for social housing providers there will be a lot to consider when it comes to selecting the best low-carbon heating and hot water solutions as we journey to net-zero. Tom Murray, Specification Director at Baxi Heating, answers some of the key questions around heating efficiency and compliance.
What are some important upcoming legislation changes?
For new-build social housing developers, one of the most important changes to be aware of is the Future Homes Standard, which may be enacted sooner than originally indicated, and is likely to seek ending the use of gas heating systems in all new-build dwellings from 2023. Once this happens, alternative heating technologies to natural gas boilers, such as heat pumps combined with hot water cylinders, will need to be specified.
More immediately, SAP 10 could still be brought into play next year as part of an intermediate step in Building Regulations, which will reduce the carbon intensity of electricity used in compliance calculations. This will serve to favour electric alternatives as a means to meet emissions targets under Approved Document L, and where boilers are still specified the changes will require a greater reliance on energy efficiency-boosting accessories, such as weather compensation, load compensation, smart controls and heat recovery systems.
What about changes for existing properties?
It is important that renovation, maintenance and improvement works carried out continue to prioritise heating systems that are as energy-efficient as possible to future-proof properties and safeguard residents. Selecting highly-efficient boilers combined with accessories will also help to keep energy bills as economical as possible by preventing wastage throughout the day.
Looking further into the future, hydrogen is currently being explored as an alternative fuel for heating existing buildings on the gas grid. Near identical in appearance and performance to condensing gas boilers today, hydrogen boilers like those being developed by Baxi Heating could provide efficient, zero-carbon space heating with little disruption to the existing building.
What are the challenges?
Because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, each project will have its own unique requirements. What can be expected across the board, however, is that with any period of significant change there will be a transitionary period.
When it comes to introducing low-carbon technologies like air source heat pumps, which aren’t currently specified or installed in great numbers, issues with design, installation and commissioning can all contribute to potential problems. As a result, heating engineers installing and maintaining them inside of social housing residential developments must have the correct product, installation and servicing knowledge. In fact, this is true for all heating and hot water technologies, which is why developers need manufacturers to deliver product and service solutions they can trust.
Understanding that social housing providers require far more than a range of efficient, dependable and built-to-last products. Baxi Assure provides an expert design service and SAP advice for new-build projects, quality spares and replacement parts from the Baxi Genuine Parts division, bespoke training courses from Baxi Training and hassle-free online warranty registration using Baxi Project Hub. Furthermore, a dedicated team of specification managers provides one point of contact for all hot water and heating system requirements.
In the coming years, social housing developers will need to be ready to make the changes necessary to help achieve the UK’s ambitions to meet CO2 reduction targets. With the help of product and service providers like Baxi Assure, we can work together to reassure social housing tenants that they will have sustainable and fit-for-purpose heating at all times.