Current affairs

By guest columnist Bill Wright, head of energy solutions, Electrical Contractors’ Association

The recent announcement on the results of the ‘Allowable Solutions’ for Zero Carbon Homes was rather disappointing. Some of the recommendations were good but there were too many ‘get out’ clauses for comfort. For a number of years the definition of ‘zero carbon’ homes has been debated and the government has given extra finance to further the studies so there was much expectation on this consultation. The fact that now developers can purchase carbon offsets to mitigate the homes lack of carbon credentials is a licence to do nothing.

Theoretically ‘Allowable Solutions’ should be those which are not economic but how is this going to be policed? It may well be cheaper for a house builder to pay for carbon offsets rather than make the dwelling super energy efficient. The new owner of the house will be subject to higher energy bills than would have been the case had it been constructed to be carbon zero. Who will confirm that offsets have been carried out? They could be purchased for projects on the other side of the world and presumably there will be agents and project fees to come out of the costs so are we going to get full value of these offsets or are they merely to assuage the developers’ sustainability credentials? Overall a disappointing result.