Current affairs

By Bill Wright, ECA

Just when you thought things in the energy efficiency world were improving the government announces something which sets everything back a few steps. The latest setback is the ‘Zero Carbon Homes’ announced in the Queen’s Speech in parliament.

Despite all the time and effort put into the definition and benefits of the Zero Carbon Home initiative the government has announced a substantial weakening of the regulations. House builders will now be able to offset a large part of the energy efficiency and renewable energy requirements of a new house by paying a ‘carbon offset tax’ which would be used to purchase a carbon reduction action away from the development.

This will increase the energy usage in the new house and cost the occupants more in energy costs, which will be a substantial amount over the lifetime of the building, but the government sees it reducing the cost of a new house. Given the relatively low cost of energy efficiency work and renewable energy installations compared to the ever increasing market cost of new homes this seems an absurd argument and ultimately will add to the profits of house builders.