Housing Minister Margaret Beckett today set out the Government”s proposals for making all new homes zero carbon from 2016.
More than 25 per cent of the UK”s carbon emissions are produced by our housing, and with the Government committed to reducing carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, both existing and new homes must become more carbon efficient. The Government has already set out its plans to make all new homes zero carbon by 2016. The consultation process being launched today will enable the detailed requirements to be set.
Today”s consultation proposes a system that both meets our green objectives and recognises the difficult economic conditions facing the housing industry. This includes:

  • requiring a greatly increased level of energy efficiency in the fabric of new homes setting a minimum level of carbon reduction that developers must achieve on the site of the housing development, such as through improved insulation, or providing onsite renewable energy requiring developers to tackle the remaining carbon emissions of the new homes, by choosing measures from a list of “allowable solutions”, such as providing energy efficient appliances with the home or exporting low and zero carbon heat and cooling to surrounding developments setting a limit on the amount expected to be spent on these allowable solutions, to provide the house-building industry certainty over maximum costs of the policy
  • reviewing the list of allowable solutions in 2012 to ensure they will be sufficiently available within the cost limit that has been set and to check whether the proposed list of allowable solutions needs to be updated
    Housing Minister Margaret Beckett said:

“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing the world, and introducing zero carbon homes is an important part of our plans to tackle this, as well as further action to tackle emissions from the existing housing stock. I am absolutely committed to our 2016 target, and this demanding goal is already spurring action here and abroad.
“With the consultation process we are launching today, we are confident we will be able to achieve our ambitions while giving the industry flexibility for how they get there.”
Welcoming publication of the consultation, UK Green Building Council Chief Executive Paul King said:
“The science on climate change tells us action is even more urgent than it was two years ago when the zero carbon target was first set. So Government should be congratulated for sticking by the commitment that all new homes will be zero carbon from 2016.
“UK-GBC has some strong views about what should and shouldn”t be allowed to contribute to the definition of a zero carbon home. But as our task group report showed earlier in the year, these are very complex issues and there will be a lively debate over the coming months. The important thing is that, by the end of the process, we have an approach which is clear, provides certainty to all parties and retains the original environmental ambition underpinning it.”
The Zero Carbon Hub”s Chief Executive Neil Jefferson said:
“Publication of the consultation is a crucial step in moving beyond the high level policy commitment that was made last year to delivering zero carbon homes on the ground. We look forward to working with Communities and Local Government and with industry to familiarise industry with Government”s proposals and to help industry feed back its views on the consultation to Government.”
Zero carbon status is measured against the annual emissions from heating, ventilation, hot water, fixed lighting, and the expected use of appliances.
The consultation now gives an opportunity for all groups to have their say on the proposed structure and further details, including the minimum level of carbon emissions that are reduced by onsite means and the list of allowable solutions. The consultation runs until 18 March 2009.
Notes to editors
1. The Zero Carbon consultation document is available at: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.communities.gov.uk/planningandbuilding/theenvironment/zerocarbonhomes/
2. The proposed definition of a zero carbon home includes a very high level of energy efficiency, a minimum level of carbon reductions that would need to be achieved, compared to today”s Building Regulations, through a combination of energy efficiency measures, onsite energy supply and/or connections to low carbon heat. This is referred to as the ”carbon compliance” level. We are consulting on reductions between 44 and 100 percent of emissions from the home (not including cooking and appliances, which are not at present covered by Building Regulations).
3. The remaining carbon emissions (including from cooking and appliances) would need to be addressed via a proposed list of allowable solutions comprising:
carbon compliance beyond the minimum standard (towards or all the way up to mitigating 100 per cent of regulated emissions plus emissions from cooking and appliances) a credit for any energy efficient appliances or advanced forms of building control system (such as smart systems which automatically adjust energy settings if the home is unoccupied) installed by the house builder that reduce the anticipated energy demand from the home where, as a result of the development, low carbon or renewable heat (or cooling) is exported from the development itself, or from an installation that is connected to the development, to existing properties that were previously heated (or cooled) by fossil fuels, then credit will be given for the resulting carbon savings a credit for S106 Planning Obligations paid by the developer towards local low and zero carbon energy infrastructure retrofitting works undertaken by the developer to transform the energy efficiency of existing buildings in the vicinity of the development any investment by the developer in low and zero carbon energy infrastructure (limited to the UK and UK waters) where the benefits of ownership of that investment are passed to the purchaser of the home where offsite renewable electricity is connected to the development by a direct physical connection, a credit for any carbon savings relative to grid electricity any other measures that Government might in future announce as being eligible
4. The allowable solutions will be reviewed in 2012 to check that they can be delivered at or below a “capped cost” (expressed in terms of a cost per tonne of carbon dioxide) to be set following the conclusion of this consultation and to check that the list of allowable solutions proposed continues to support wider energy and climate change policy.
5. The 2016 Zero Carbon target was set out in the July 2007 publication Building a Greener Future and since then more than 180 builders, local authorities and other groups have signed up to the Zero Carbon Commitment, demonstrating their support for the target. The Zero Carbon Delivery Hub has also been established, with funding from both industry and the Government, to overcome practical barriers to achieving the target. The Zero Carbon Hub reports to the 2016 Task Force, which is chaired by the Minister for Housing and Planning and Executive Chairman of the Home Builders Federation and which provides strategic oversight to the implementation of the zero carbon homes policy.
6. An estimated 30 per cent of our 2050 housing stock has yet to be built. If an additional 8 million homes were built to current Building Regulations, then there would be a significant increase in overall emissions. To meet the Government”s target of an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, we need to take serious action to reduce emissions from those homes that are yet to be built.
7. In its 2008 Budget, the Government set out an ambition for all new non-domestic buildings to be zero carbon from 2019, with an earlier target (2018) for new public sector buildings. The consultation sets out Government”s current thinking in this area, and calls for further evidence, in anticipation of an in-depth consultation on new non-domestic buildings next year.
8. This is only one part of the Government”s plans to reduce emissions from the built environment. The Government will be consulting in early 2009 on its Heat and Energy Saving Strategy, which will look at ways of improving energy efficiency of, and reducing carbon emissions from, the existing building stock.
9. The Zero Carbon Hub will be supporting the consultation by running a series of workshops to enable the industry to engage with the issues in this consultation. For more information on these events please email info@zerocarbonhub.org.