With the Future Homes Standard on the horizon, is triple glazing inevitable?


Last month, Edgetech held a roundtable debate on the Future Homes Standard, triple glazing, and what lies ahead for the sector in light of ever-tightening performance requirements. Managing Director Chris Alderson reports back.

Will the Future Home Standard make triple glazing mandatory for newbuild?

In UK glass and glazing, that’s currently the million-dollar question.

We know it will seek to cut the average newbuild’s carbon emissions by between 75-80%. But as of yet, that’s about all the information we have.

Many in our sector now believe the large-scale adoption of triple glazing is inevitable. But is it? Would that be a good thing? Could the industry cope?

These were the key questions we sought to answer when we invited experts from across the glass sector to Birmingham for a roundtable discussion.

We were joined by leading trade bodies, glass suppliers, IGU manufacturers and representatives from the trade press to tackle these crucial issues.

Preparing for the future

I steered the discussion through a variety of key talking points, while anonymous polling gave us instant snapshots of the feeling in the room.

The first of our polls asked attendees how much they knew about the Future Homes Standard, and revealed a good level of understanding.

11% said they had a limited knowledge, 44% said moderate, 33% said good and 11% said expert.

This in itself was very encouraging. I was also pleasantly surprised at how many people around the table had already begun taking action.

Of those present, 100% said they’d started making preparations for the Future Homes Standard and the tightening of regulations for newbuild windows.

Of course, the biggest difficulty with preparing for the Future Homes Standard is we don’t know exactly what it will entail, which was acknowledged by attendees.

However, all were committed to futureproofing more generally, with some already investing in new triple glazing capable automated lines.

Can the industry cope?

Asked how confident they were in the general industry’s ability to meet the increased performance requirements, opinions were more mixed.

It was noted that the big IG manufacturers are clearly making preparations, with many investing, or improving and renovating lines.

At the most recent FIT Show, many systems companies were also keen to showcase their triple glazing-capable frames.

However, many challenges remain. The issue of machinery was frequently raised – laminating tables can have lead times of up to 16 months.

It was also mentioned that low-e centre panes need toughening, which will increase demand for toughening equipment, as well as increase energy usage.

Skills presents another issue. Triple glazing means greater complexity in the manufacturing process, which needs the right people with the right skills to be able to handle it. Not the easiest challenge to address as the industry is already grappling with a labour shortage.

Some attendees predicted further consolidation in the market as existing manufacturers decide they’d rather exit than adapt to the new changes.

It was also suggested we could see more specialisation, with suppliers focusing on refurb or new build rather than both.

Positive signs

Then we turned to one of the biggest questions of all – were those around the table actually in favour of triple glazing becoming mandatory for newbuild?

I was expecting the response to be a lot more mixed, but it was actually very decisive – 78% of attendees were in favour, 22% were against.

This was another hugely encouraging sign. The transition is going to be so much easier if large numbers of businesses are fully on board with it.

That positivity extended to other key areas of the debate, too – 63% of attendees believed they’d be completely ready for a shift to triple glazing now, and 25% believed they’d be ready in time.

Another interesting sign was that 75% of those in attendance were already seeing increasing demand for triple glazing – driven by consumer interest in reducing heating bills and future-proofing home resale values..

The devil is in the detail

As of yet, none of us know what the Future Home Standard will bring.

We got a taste of the unpredictability that always exists when it comes to regulation on the week of the roundtable.

The government unexpectedly announced that the gas boiler ban originally set to come into force in 2030 would be delayed until 2035 – likely meaning that every other aspect of a newbuild would have to be made more energy efficient to compensate.

Does this make triple glazing more likely? It’s certainly possible.

The details of the Future Homes Standard will be crucial. In Birmingham, we discussed the frequently-repeated belief that the new U-value requirement for windows in newbuild will be 0.8.

Attendees questioned what that would mean in practice – would 0.85 be acceptable, for instance? Some manufacturers believe that would be achievable, but argue 0.80 would be much more difficult.

It’s these kinds of questions we’ll only be able to answer in time. Any week now, we’re expecting the launch of the government’s latest consultation on the Future Homes Standard.

Once that’s been concluded, and the results released, we’ll be in a much better position to assess the impact the new legislation is likely to have.

That’s why, on 27th March 2024, we’ll be holding our second Triple Glazing Question event – ten years on from the original, and at the same venue, Coventry’s CBS (formerly Ricoh) Arena.

We’d be delighted if as many of you as possible could join us then to discuss and debate this potentially transformative shift for the glazing industry.

A Quanex Building Products Seminar
Organised by: Edgetech (UK) Ltd
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