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Building Net Zero Homes of the Future.

In this guest article, Emma Bohan, General Manager of IMS Heat Pumps discusses how architects play a pivotal role when it comes to helping the UK reach its net-zero target for carbon emissions by 2050 by embracing low carbon options.

The reality is, that when it comes to the general excitement surrounding a new build or renovating a home, heating systems don’t get homeowners blood pumping in quite the same way as a new kitchen or the latest Farrow & Ball colour chart! That’s why architects are so important in the build process, as they can guide their clients through the maze of heating options and explain the benefits of heat pump systems from a financial, efficiency and environmental perspective.

Future Homes Standard

In January 2021, the Government published its response to the consultation on their ‘Plans for the Future Homes Standard 2025’ and the proposed changes to Part L of the Building Regulations.

It outlined that homes built under the new standard are expected to produce 75-80% less carbon emissions compared with current levels. However, anyone installing a new heating system or undertaking significant renovation or adaptation work, must also be aware of the likely introduction of a ‘carbon tax’ after 2025 for any homes that have a gas heating system.

So it makes sense to either install a ground, air or water source heat pumps as a way of future proofing homes.

Net Zero

According to RIBA, the build environment is responsible for 40% of the UK’s carbon footprint and the spotlight is on the construction industry to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and embrace renewable energy sources if the net zero target is to be met.

In response, RIBA has developed the 2030 Climate Challenge, which calls on all RIBC Chartered Practices to help address the global climate crisis.

To ensure the new standards are met, architects and the wider construction industry are being called on to focus on sustainable design and climate change and design and deliver homes that produce 31% lower carbon emissions.

And it is not just new builds that will push this change, retrofit solutions are also becoming commonplace, as the UK looks to reduce the carbon footprint of its housing stock. Low carbon heating, hot water solutions and solar panels can all be retrofitted to existing homes to makes them greener, energy efficient and future proofed.

A move away from traditional gas boilers, and the introduction of low-carbon technologies to heat homes and water is high on the agenda, as in just four years’ time, gas boilers will be banned from all newbuild properties.

So, what are the alternatives?

Heat Pumps as an alternative to gas boilers

Heat Pumps are not ‘new’ technology, they have in fact been in use since 1845, just not widely in the UK. Nordic countries have long embraced this technology, with Sweden having by far the highest penetration of heat pumps per capita in the world.

In the UK, they are set to become a big part of the Governments plan for net zero, with air source heat pumps included in the Prime Ministers Ten Point Plan to make UK’s homes greener, warmer and more energy efficient. His goal is to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.

In the UK, there are currently more than 26 million homes with gas boilers and 1.1 million using oil. Eventually, all will need to be replaced.

There are three types of heat pumps, with the most common type installed in the UK being air source, and ground and water source pumps used on large properties.

Heat pumps extract heat from the air, ground, or water, this is then transferred by an electric compressor, using significantly less energy than a fossil fuel boiler, to heat your home.

To find out more about the systems, visit:

Making green fashionable

In a bid to reach ‘Net Zero’ the industry needs to make renewable energy fashionable, with passive houses and carbon neutral buildings becoming commonplace. Climate conscious architects and self-builders need to advocate for the technology, as we push to make alternative solutions to fossil-fuels the standard choice.

With the increasing urgency and awareness around carbon emissions rising, people are more concerned than ever before about the energy choices for their homes and are keen to lower carbon emissions by finding alternative ways to heat their homes.

There are financial concerns, as there is no denying that the installation cost of a heat pump is more expensive than a traditional gas boiler. However, where heat pumps are being installed in new builds the initial outlay is a spend within an overall budget and therefore the difference between upfront costs can often be easily overcome with Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme and fuel savings.

However, for many, the long-term advantages out way the initial outlay.

Benefits of installing a heat pump in your home:

  • Environmentally friendly
  • More efficient
  • Longer lifespan
  • Lower running costs (fossil fuel prices are set to rise faster than electricity in the future)
  • Less Maintenance

The role of Architects

Architects can lead the way to carbon neutrality and drive change, they have the skills and knowledge to do so.

If all design work is net zero from this point on, we will see a reduction in emissions, a surge in sustainable homes, and will reach the Future Homes Standard target by 2025.

IMS Heat Pumps

Established in 1997, IMS Heat Pump Installers have over 20 years’ experience and are one of the UK’s leading ground and air source heat pump installation experts in the UK.


Related Articles
28th May 2021 - Retrofitting leaky homes would cost £5bn over next four years, UK ministers told.
8th November 2020 - Heat pumps - have a cosy home without warming the planet.


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