How the proposed Future Buildings Standards will impact commercial designs


The idea of living a greener life isn’t something new – in fact, it’s something we’re all trying to get better at, especially considering the UK’s ambition to be net-zero by 2050. And, for those of you that aren’t familiar with net-zero, it is the balance between the amount of greenhouse gases produced in the atmosphere, and the amount removed. Simply put, the UK will reach net-zero when there is an equal balance between the two.

With this in mind, the Committee on Climate Change has stated that buildings must be decarbonised by 2050. And, with heating and powering buildings across the country currently accounting for 40 per cent of the UK’s total energy usage, essential changes must be made when it comes to designing new commercial buildings, as well as undertaking any refurbishment work on current properties. On the back of this, proposed Future Building Standards are now being reviewed, with any changes anticipated to affect non-domestic buildings from 2025. Simply put, the proposed Future Building Standards intend to make new commercial property more energy-efficient, while futureproofing them in readiness for low carbon heating systems. So, how exactly will the proposed changes impact commercial designs?

Changes to building regulations Part L and Part F will heavily impact future commercial designs, by raising the bar and setting minimum standards when it comes to energy efficiency. It is therefore essential for those in commercial property to look at the way a property is heated, as this will significantly impact its energy performance and will need to be decarbonised.

Part L, which has not been revised since 2013, covers heating, lighting, and hot water usage in buildings. Changes to Part F refers specifically to regulated ventilation, in hope of reducing the risk of overheating in new properties while lowering carbon emissions.

Primary Energy

Primary energy is introduced as the preferred key metric for new commercial properties, while CO2 remains the secondary option.

Primary energy can be non-renewable or renewable and is formed from nature, rather than converted via some sort of human-engineered process.

Goodbye Gas Boilers

The Future Home Standards includes a ban on fossil fuel boilers from 2025 and a decrease in emissions of 75 to 80 per cent, compared with current levels. Heat pumps are the Government’s popular choice when it comes to picking an alternative, in favour of other heat sources.

Improving Thermal Performance

In hope of implementing interim changes and seeing changes sooner, commercial design should reduce emissions through either improving building services or, fabric improvements, for example increasing the thermal performance of the core structure of buildings, including windows, roofs and doors.

Commercial designers could also consider incorporating ways of capturing and reusing heat, into the design of a property. This means, heat exchangers, for example, could be fitted once the building is fitted.


A new, improved overheating document will come into effect, which means designers should think twice about implementing systems such as underfloor heating or panel heaters, as they have a huge impact on the amount of energy used.

Better Segmented Energy Control

The Future Building Standards also looks at the increased integration of smart building technologies, during the design and build process, which will allow users to control and use energy in specific parts of a building, as and when necessary.

Improved Ventilation

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, it comes as no surprise that the proposals tackle the risk of airborne illnesses in non-domestic buildings. The Future Building Standards suggests new measures should be in place where there are large group gatherings, singing, or aerobic exercise happens. In these cases, ventilation must be 50 per cent higher than the minimum standards for other places. This may require larger mechanical ventilation systems, which then operate below full capacity in normal condition – which provides a better solution to reducing energy, rather than simply increasing the fan speed of a smaller ventilation system.

At Keenan Projects Designs, we offer a range of commercial projects, which means our team of professionals are here to help you achieve net-zero, while complying with any changes to building regulations, ultimately saving you money and time long-term. Get in touch with the team of experts today.

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