Government ends zero carbon homes

The government has confirmed the end of plans to introduce the zero carbon offsetting scheme, and proposed increases in energy efficiency standards for new homes.

Industry leaders have been quick to condemn the move, described by the government as an attempt to remove redtape and boost stubbornly low levels of housebuilding, as a huge setback.

The Allowable Solutions system would have enabled housebuilders to offset carbon emissions elsewhere, instead of installing renewables in the home.

Mike Landy, head of policy at the Solar Trade Association, which has been working to encourage new build as a cost effective market for PV, said: “This retrograde and disappointing move by the government effectively ends its zero carbon buildings policy, at a time when reducing emissions and energy bills are more important than ever.

“Solar on new build homes is a no-brainer and has widespread support. It is cheap, easy, brings running costs down and helps green our energy supply. The scaffolding is already up, the workers are on site and the solar can be attractively integrated into the roof.

“The cost of solar PV has come down by over 60 percent in recent years and reductions are set to continue.  The occupants of new homes will be the real losers from this, paying hundreds of pounds more for their energy.”

Dave Sowden, CEO of the Sustainable Energy Association, added: “Industry has been disappointed time and time again by the government’s lack of ambition on Zero Carbon Homes Policy and now a further backward step has been taken.

“Now we are told that neither the Allowable Solution scheme nor the proposed energy efficiency improvements will be taken forward in 2016.

“The government’s commitment to Zero Carbon Homes was intended to create a pathway to zero carbon buildings. Albeit ambitious, this was an achievable target that industry had the ability to deliver if the government had ever provided certainty.

“This failure to set a long-term vision for energy efficiency in building will result in higher fuel bills for consumers and also a huge bill for the future governments dealing with retrofit improvements to poorly functioning buildings.”