There’s a new energy efficiency and low carbon heating standard coming into force for new homes in the UK from 2025.
It’s an approach that has much to commend itself, and one that anyone involved in house building in South Africa, particularly affordable homes, will do well to take notice of.
The UK Future Homes Standard sets out new requirements for energy efficiency and low carbon heating, requiring that from 2025, homes must be ‘zero-carbon ready ‘and should produce 75-80% less carbon emissions than is currently the case under existing regulations.
There are lots of benefits to be had for all players, from a reduced carbon footprint and consistent standards of quality, through to lower heating bills for residents.
It’s these kinds of benefits that would translate well into any future South African affordable homes building programme, such as the 2,750 housing scheme in metropolitan Johannesburg, which includes central Johannesburg, Soweto and other surrounding townships.
South Africa’s Department of Human Settlements reports that the government has built some 2.7 million low-cost houses over the past 15 years, but there is still an estimated backlog of 2 million+ more. At an average of six people per family, that leaves some 12 million people in dire need of homes.
Around 95% of new affordable housing is being built on the edge of urban townships, but with the right quality standards and a more consistent approach, there’s real potential to create new homes closer to the centre of cities – where access to services, jobs, and healthcare, for example, is easier.
Creating new communities in this way, where low-carbon, energy efficient standards are the order of the day, can make a tangible contribution towards reducing carbon emissions, improving health and increasing social cohesion.
In turn, this will lead to improved broad-based economic growth, better environmental sustainability, and a more prosperous and equitable society.
There are already projects under way that seek to deliver such benefits. The UK-based CDC Group has invested 36m USD with Divercity in an initiative to deliver more than 2,500 new and green affordable residential units, expanding housing options close to economic opportunity for low- and middle-income households
The commitment is expected to create between 2,000 – 4,000 construction and permanent operational jobs, creating economic opportunities and boosting employment.
To successfully deliver such ambitions programmes, builders will need access to the right materials that will make energy efficiency and low-carbon heating installations straightforward and cost-effective.
Products such as MiTek’s Posi-Joist can play an integral part of this strategy, as they are a perfect fit for MVHR systems. Combining the versatility of timber with the strength of steel webs, they’re light, strong, and quick and easy to install. Contractors can easily be trained in the skills required, providing jobs for the local and regional workforce.
Tailor-made to fit single or multiple builds, Posi-joists can be specified in a wide range of widths and depths to satisfy individual project requirements. Their clear span capabilities can often eliminate the need for load-bearing walls or steel beams, which makes life easier for both designers and builders.
Critically, its open web construction provides easy access for the installation and maintenance of services within the floor zone. Pipework, ducting, cabling and other services can be easily and quickly installed with no need for cutting or drilling. Installation of services such as plumbing and electricity is far simpler and quicker with Posi-Joists, reducing both labour costs and build-up time on site.
MiTek has already worked with companies in South Africa to help deliver Posi-Joist projects, not just for housing but also for industrial and commercial applications, and we look forward to playing a greater part in helping to make more homes available for those who are most in need.