Government announces end of zero-carbon buildings policy

The announcement in a report from HM Treasury* that the Government does not intend to proceed with the zero-carbon homes from 2016 generated a huge reaction from various industry interests. Most of it was very anti, but there was also acceptance of the inevitability of the decision and the potential benefits it will bring.The zero-carbon buildings policy was first announced in 2007. This latest announcement means that the 2016 target for zero-carbon homes and the 2019 target for non-domestic zero-carbon buildings are both dropped. There will also be no changes to Part L during 2016.

The report says that energy-efficiency standards will be kept under review, recognising that existing measures to increase the energy efficiency of new buildings should be allowed time to become established.

Commenting on the announcement, Hywel Davies, CIBSE’s technical director, said, ‘This is not a huge surprise to me because getting the changes to Part L that zero carbon needs was already looking challenging. It has been clear for some time that the offsetting elements of the allowable-solutions scheme did not fulfil the requirements of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, under which the UK has to deliver nearly-zero-energy buildings from 2021, and 2019 in the public sector.

‘We now have the clarity that the industry has been seeking. The next key target for Part L is nearly-zero-energy buildings, and we have to be ready to build them for the public sector by 1 January 2019. All we have to do is work out how.’

Abandoning the zero-carbon target for new homes will boost the supply of housing via small and medium-sized builders, according to the Federation of Master Builders.

Sarah McMonagle, head of external affairs at the FMB, said, ‘The target for all new homes to be zero carbon by 2016 was overly ambitious.’ She believes that the cost burdens that have been lifted will lead to more new homes being built.

* ‘Fixing the foundations: creating a more prosperous nation’

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