UKGBC publishes guidance on zero carbon homes 

climate emergency, zero carbon homes 

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has published two resources designed to support local authorities in tackling the climate emergency, by driving up the sustainability of new homes

The New Homes Policy Playbook and an interactive policy map provide detailed guidance and examples of best practice policy.

Local authorities up and down the country are increasingly recognising the role they must play in addressing the climate crisis.

Nearly three-quarters of UK councils and combined authorities have now declared climate emergencies and committed to delivering net-zero carbon by 2050.

Since the national zero carbon homes policy was scrapped in 2015, many local authorities have been taking the initiative through local planning requirements.

UKGBC’s interactive policy map, which launched in November 2020 to showcase leading retrofit policies, has now been updated with a new layer of information which highlights the most ambitious local new homes policies.

The playbook, which UKGBC has regularly updated since 2018, has been given a major overhaul and includes an expanded section on how to approach delivering net-zero carbon, as well as sections on mitigating overheating risk, the cross-cutting issue of assuring performance and the role of acoustics.

It is intended to be a practical resource, designed to be used and adapted to support officers with responsibility for areas such as sustainability, planning, regeneration and housing.

Leadership being shown by local government

John Alker, director of policy and Places at UKGBC, said: “It’s simply impossible to meet our carbon targets unless we get to grips with emissions from the new homes that we undoubtedly need.

“National policy on zero carbon homes has been chopped and changed and we still await clarity on what was supposed to be last year’s update to Building Regulations.

“However, many local and combined authorities, recognising the urgency, have forged ahead by using planning as a lever to drive up the carbon performance of new homes.

“It is really encouraging to see leadership being shown by local government, but a huge amount of confusion remains and there is a danger that we will end up with a patchwork of different policies in different areas.

“UKGBC’s overhauled Policy Playbook can equip those local authorities wishing to go further, with the resources and inspiration to introduce ambitious but deliverable policy and support a consistent approach that will be welcomed by industry.”


  1. This is a fantastic way to curry favour with the electorate and block new housebuilding: just impose stringent “zero carbon” measures and watch your planning applications dry up because it’s unviable economically to build. Virtue-signalling coupled with no new homes – what a win win.

    The same goes for landlords: if they are forced to have minimum EPCs of C by March 2025, as the Government is planning to require – and no doubt some councils are looking to force this on landlords earlier using their licensing regimes – landlords will simply sell up and make the EPC upgrade of old housing stock into some owner-occupiers’ problem. But that won’t matter when the important thing is sticking it to evil landlords and looking like you’re “green”.

    In the meantime, why are these same councils not doing anything to tackle the appalling EPC profile of existing properties? The number of new homes is tiny compared to the existing built environment, yet somehow new-builds are fair game to impose every more stringent requirements, irrespective of cost, whilst owner-occupiers, the vast majority of whom have EPC of B or lower, get away scot-free with doing nothing. One day a local or national government will start linking EPCs to council tax rates, and perhaps require a minimum EPC C rating before you can sell your home. Then we’ll see the feathers fly!


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