Green builders spell out zero carbon

The Construction industry is calling on government to re-write the rules after concluding that three quarters of new homes are unlikely to meet voluntary targets which would see them having no carbon emissions.

Government guidelines say off-site renewables do not count when developing zero carbon homes.

But the UK Green Building Council’s zero carbon task group says this is just one of the areas which will need a rethink unless government wants developers to miss the targets on over 80% of new homes.

In its report The Definition of Zero Carbon the UKGBC applauds government aspirations and insists it is not asking for a watering down of the targets, but suggests the same end might be reached by more realistic measures.

Paul King, chief executive of the UK-GBC said: “Government’s level of ambition is spot on and should be supported 100%. This is not about dumbing down or abandoning the concept of zero carbon.

“This is about ensuring the same high level of carbon savings, but allowing developers more flexibility in how to get there to deliver mainstream, zero carbon homes in the numbers required.

“The solutions we are pointing to are designed to ensure energy demand reduction always comes first and on- or near-site renewables should be the focus for meeting energy needs.

“Our proposed definition recognises off-site renewables could play a part, and also gives a big boost to community-scale technologies. This would have the added benefit of enabling much-needed carbon reductions in the existing stock, by enabling the distribution of low or zero carbon heat through district networks.

“There is plenty more work to do, and we look forward to Government’s response. But we’ve taken the first step along the road of delivering new homes in high volumes, that are zero-carbon, affordable and great quality places to live.”

The report calls for:

  • All new buildings must meet strict minimum energy efficiency standards, both in terms of the building design and household appliances where supplied by developers.
  • All new buildings should seek to mitigate carbon emissions from energy use on or near the development. Where this is not possible, a minimum level of carbon mitigation must be met.
  • Above this threshold either: Off-site solutions could be allowed provided that they are demonstrably additional and have been built specifically to deliver the energy needs of the development or the developer can pay into a ‘Community Energy Fund’ that will ensure equal or greater net carbon savings are delivered through new installations.

    Sam Bond

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