House-builders acclimatise to a warming Britain

Reaching Government targets of making all new homes carbon-neutral within ten years calls for better insulation against the winter cold and the summer heat alike, a green building summit heard on Tuesday.

British house-builders should take inspiration from Mediterranean tiled floors, whitewashed walls and shutters to prevent interiors from heating up and save energy used for air-conditioning, said planning minister Yvette Cooper, who attended the summit.

Members of the Home Builders Federation, who organized the event, met with Government representatives and green groups to discuss the practicalities of making all new homes carbon-neutral by 2016 – a commitment announced by Gordon Brown in his pre-budget report last December.

The house-building industry welcomed the environmental targets, but stressed that it would need to work with Government, local authorities and others to deliver them.

Stewart Baseley, chairman of the Home Builders Federation, said: “This roundtable summit aims to bring all the parties together and, rolling up our sleeves, begin the crucial task of working out the detail so that we can achieve higher environmental standards and at the same time deliver the step-change in housing output that the country so badly needs.”

Achieving carbon-neutrality requires cutting out all of a building’s emissions, including those from electrical appliances as well as heating or cooling.

Yvette Cooper MP, Minister for Housing and Planning, said: “Every sector of the economy needs to do its bit to help cut carbon emissions and I welcome the commitment of the Home Builders Federation to delivering much higher environmental standards in the future.

“We know it will be a challenge for all new homes to be zero carbon within 10 years but we think the industry can rise to it.

“It’s important that the Government, house builders, utilities and local councils all work together to deliver the changes we need. And improving the energy efficiency of our homes will help cut people’s fuel bills as well as cutting carbon emissions.”

Announcing the zero-carbon target last December the Chancellor said: “It is time to set a long-term framework for curbing emissions from houses, which are 30% of all emissions… Within ten years every new home will be a zero carbon home and we will be the first country ever to make this commitment.”

A package of measures setting out plans for reaching the zero-carbon goal followed, outlined in the new Code for Sustainable Homes (see related story). A consultation document focusing on the measures can be accessed here.

Goska Romanowicz

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