Any less than Zero Carbon….?
The government’s plan to water down its commitment to zero carbon homes moved a step closer this week, after the coalition’s Infrastructure Bill passed through the House of Commons without the proposal being amended.
MPs voted to change several aspects of the bill – including beefing up restrictions to fracking for shale gas – but left the clause to exempt new-build developments of ten homes or fewer from funding off-site “allowable solutions” unamended.
Allowable solutions provide developers with a mechanism to compensate for building homes that do not meet zero carbon standards with measures such as paying a charge into a central pot, or carrying out energy-efficiency retrofits to existing buildings.
The exemption of smaller sites – which account for around 21% of new homes – means that more than one-fifth of residential development could escape the zero-carbon criteria from 2016, when the target goes live.
UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) chief executive Paul King said the move left the government’s zero-carbon policy off track. “With a year to go until housebuilders are required to deliver zero carbon homes, we’re not where we need to be,” he said. “The agreed standard has been significantly diluted and a question mark still hangs over how allowable solutions will be delivered.”
The previously agreed minimum on-site standard, to be achieved before allowable solutions could be used, was defined by the Zero Carbon Hub Task Group in 2011.
UK-GBC said the standard broadly required a minimum CO2 reduction over 2006 Building Regulations standards of between 56% and 60% for houses, and 44% for flats, whereas the government’s proposed standard now represented a 44% reduction across all housing types.
For further information regarding ‘Allowable Solutions’ and the overall approach to Zero Carbon Homes can be found on the Zero Carbon Hub swebite: http://www.zerocarbonhub.org/zero-carbon-policy/zero-carbon-policy
Article courtesy of Green Building News.