‘Define zero carbon’ debate heats up

Government is likely to take on board developers' concerns about its definition of zero carbon in the Code for Sustainable Homes and amend policy to allow for off-site renewable energy generation in some cases.

Speaking at Nemex on Wednesday, Inbuilt architect and Government advisor Lynne Sullivan told delegates about the UK Green Building Council’s concerns over the lack of flexibility in the code.

As things stand, the code asks that all newly-built homes be carbon neutral by 2016 and this should include on-site heat and power generation.

As previously reported by edie, the UKGBC has pointed out that this stance is unrealistic and leads to economic folly on many developments, where locally-generated low-carbon energy or even off-site large-scale generation would have the same end result at a fraction of the cost.

Ms Sullivan said it was likely that Government would amend its policy in this area over the next year, and it was likely that off-site generation would been seen as an acceptable alternative where microgeneration was not a viable option.

She also highlighted the need to address the carbon emissions of existing housing and called for parity in standards for commercial and domestic properties – vital when it comes to developing mixed use sites.

“We must never lose sight of the fact that we must fix our existing stock in order to reduce our carbon footprint as a nation,” she said.

She said that architects as a profession needed to do more to inform themselves of the low carbon agenda and outlined how the current RIBA president, Sunand Prasad, had made it his mission to use his term to deliver to members a very precise explanation of what they need to do on this issue and ensure they are all capable of advising clients on climate change.

Sam Bond

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