Government sounds “death knell” for zero carbon homes

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The UK Green Building Council has today responded to the announcement that the government does not intend to proceed with the zero carbon Allowable Solutions carbon offsetting scheme, or the proposed 2016 increase in on-site energy efficiency standards.

Even in the 2014 Queen’s Speech, the Coalition Government reconfirmed its commitment to the zero carbon homes 2016 policy and the intention to introduce the Allowable Solutions mechanism. Housebuilders were to be allowed to use Allowable Solutions, the overarching term for the carbon off-setting projects or measures, to deliver part of their commitment under the zero carbon standard if it was not cost effective to deliver the required level of carbon saving on-site. They also confirmed that the zero carbon standard would require an abatement of 100 per cent of carbon emissions covered by Building Regulations.

This is all now in disarray. Housebuilder Stewart Milne has invested £1million into the research and development of zero carbon homes.

Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive of the UK Green Building Council, said: “Let us be in no doubt this announcement is the death knell for zero carbon homes. It is short-sighted, unnecessary, retrograde and damaging to the house building industry which has invested heavily in delivering energy efficient homes. Britain needs more housing but there is no justification for building homes with a permanent legacy of high energy bills.

“The Government has not consulted the house building industry sufficiently on this sudden announcement. This arbitrary and regressive action was not mandated by the Conservative Party manifesto. Just last year the Conservative-led coalition Government enabled the allowable solutions policy in legislation. This stop-start policy making approach gives industry no confidence in the Government’s vision for a low carbon economy and condemns new home owners to higher energy bills.”

Willmott Dixon is one of the UK’s biggest housebuilders.

Rob Lambe, Managing Director of Willmott Dixon Energy Services, said: “Since the original Zero Carbon announcement Willmott Dixon has been supportive of setting a long term trajectory enabling industry to invest with confidence. This announcement seriously undermines industry confidence in government policy and will diminish future investment.”

Paul King, Managing Director Sustainability, Communications & Marketing LendLease Europe, said: “Industry needs as much policy clarity and consistency as possible in order to invest and innovate, and after almost 10 years of commitment and progress, UK house builders and developers have come a very long way. It is therefore extremely disappointing that the Government has today removed a World-leading ambition for all new homes to be zero carbon from 2016.”

The Offsite Construction Survey

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