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Grant Shapps sets out practical solution to cut emissions from new homes

Housing Minister Grant Shapps has today announced a tough but realistic definition for zero carbon homes that strikes the right balance between…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Housing Minister Grant Shapps has today announced a tough but realistic definition for zero carbon homes that strikes the right balance between delivering the zero carbon homes for the future and creating the right conditions to get the homes the country needs built.

The Government’s proposals for the Zero Carbon Homes standard - the standard to which all new homes started after 2016 must be built - will set tough new standards to ensure that new homes do not add to the country’s carbon footprint.

Mr Shapps said that he rejected calls to make housebuilders anticipate the lifetime emissions of each property because it was not reasonable, and other measures are in place to reduce the carbon emissions from the actual use of houses. He said that “they should not be responsible for the amount of television the families who buy their homes watch or the number of cups of tea they make each day”.

Instead, tough standards for fabric energy efficiency (insulation, glazing) will be included in future changes to the Building Regulations.

Mr Shapps also said that the Government will consult on the independent Zero Carbon Hub’s recommendations on the levels for other on site carbon reduction levels, which might require renewable energy technologies to be used like solar panels. And he will confirm that a proposed regime for off-site measures like community energy schemes which deliver genuinely additional carbon savings would be introduced.

Key aspects of this will be to design a regime which will:

  • be made available to all developers operating in England;
  • be cost effective by ensuring offsite measures are no higher than the Government’s long term value of carbon; and
  • ensure that any funds raised will be dedicated to carbon abatement.

The Government will also review the measures which can be supported under these approaches and will consult further with industry, local government and other partners on these.

Grant Shapps said:

We have delivered on our commitment to nail down a definition for zero carbon homes. This is an historic turning point in our drive to slash carbon emissions and tackle climate change. It paves the way for the green transformation of Britain’s homes - making them warmer and more comfortable to live in, and at the same time cheaper to run.

And we have done this without piling unfair costs on housebuilders. The new definition will balance increased costs of house building with the social commitment we made to reduce our country’s carbon footprint.

This approach is fairer and reaffirms the Government’s commitment to reduce regulatory and other burdens on the house-building industry by March 2015. It also plays an important part in protecting the economic stability of the country.

Housebuilders will now only be responsible for emissions from homes themselves, as covered by Building Regulations, so they will need to take action to ensure that the emissions associated with the energy use from heating, lighting, hot water and building services are reduced to zero.

Carbon savings will be made beyond the bricks and mortar, by building homes both with renewable energy technologies on site, such as solar power, and through off-site measures such as local community energy schemes. All new homes started after 2016 will be built to this standard, so housebuilders can now start working towards this date. The independent Zero Carbon Hub has established a series of work streams to address implementation.


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Published 17 May 2011