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Government faces calls to raise Zero Carbon Homes standards



MPs are being urged to back amendments to the infrastructure bill today to “restore” the government’s Zero Carbon Homes standards, which are set to come in next year.

The UK had been on track to deliver “genuinely zero carbon homes for new build in 2016”. However, according to a group of organisations, including WWF, the Renewable Energy Association and The Solar Trade Association, the standards have been watered down to such an extent that current proposals will save just a third of the carbon of homes built to 2006 standards.

The infrastructure bill creates powers for developers to pay into a pot instead of delivering carbon-cutting measures onsite. The group argues that this mean purchasers of new homes will effectively be paying a carbon tax without enjoying the lower energy bills onsite measures can deliver.

Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, commented, “Zero Carbon Homes is in danger of becoming meaningless, with the watering down of standards meaning homes built after 2016 will need retrofitting in the future, storing up problems which will be more expensive to deal with.”

Emma Pinchbeck, head of climate and energy policy at WWF, also noted that acting now could save money in the future, both in terms of retrofitting and energy bills.

“It just doesn’t make sense to make keeping our homes warm and reducing our carbon emissions harder than it needs to be,” she added.

The UK Green Building Council has also stated that there is still time to deliver zero carbon homes by 2016 despite a watering down of the standard and uncertainty.

Paul King, chief executive of the organisation, said, “With a year to go until house builders are required to deliver zero carbon homes, we’re not where we need to be. The agreed standard has been significantly diluted and a question mark still hangs over how Allowable Solutions will be delivered.

“The clock is ticking but it’s not too late to rescue this world leading policy. One of the key priorities for the government in May must be to set the zero carbon policy back on track.”

Photo: Alex Pepperhill via Flickr 

Further reading:

Zero-carbon homes pledge to be dropped in Queen’s speech

Government consultation on zero-carbon homes welcomed by industry

Cameron’s new homes pledge ‘counter-productive’, says UK Green Building Council

Green building industry: zero-carbon buildings have ‘vast economic benefits’


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