Govt definition of zero-carbon ‘too restrictive’

A £15m Government project to stimulate the building of new zero-carbon homes has resulted in the completion of just 15 homes which meet Ministers' definition of "zero-carbon" in its first year.

Figures revealed by Treasury Minister Ian Pearson show that only a handful of new homes qualified, according to The Times.

Gordon Brown in his last Pre-Budget Report as Chancellor in November 2006 that most new zero-carbon homes would be exempt from stamp duty from 2007.

The building industry has previously raised concerns that Government’s current definition of “zero-carbon” excludes the use of off-site renewables.

This was backed up by the Callcutt Review of house building, published in November 2007 and a report published in May by the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC).

Paul King, chief executive of the UK-GBC, said: “As Government was warned in late 2007, the definition of zero-carbon is at present too restrictive.

“This is not about dumbing down the concept of zero-carbon or the level of our ambition – far from it – it is about recognising that developers should be able to achieve the same level of carbon savings but through more flexible means.”

The UK-GBC’s report entitled The Definition of Zero Carbon, warned that up to 80% of new homes would not meet the criteria.

It recommended that off-site renewable energy should be allowed, or that developers could pay into a Community Energy Fund.

However, at a fringe meeting at the Labour Party Conference in September this year, Housing Minister Caroline Flint promised a consultation on the final definition of zero-carbon homes.

A spokesman for the UK-GBC told edie: “We hope that the consultation, when it comes out, will be based on [our] report. It should certainly make the definition of zero-carbon more flexible for developers to hit.”

Kate Martin

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