The Government has finally outlined its long-awaited definition of “zero carbon homes”… but some details have still to be confirmed.
The Zero Carbon Homes standard will apply to the building of all new homes that are started after 2016. However, the Housing minister Grant Shapps has made clear that housebuilders will only have to ensure that emissions from the homes themselves (e.g. those from heating, ventilation, hot water, fixed lighting and building services), as covered by the Building Regulations, are reduced to zero; housebuilders will not be responsible, as had been suggested in the past, for emissions from household appliances used in the house - or, as Mr Shapps said, housebuilders “should not be responsible for the amount of television the families who buy their homes watch or the number of cups of tea they make each day.”
Mr Shapps also said that in order to “deliver a realistic and effective approach to zero carbon”, the Government would:
1. Include “tough” standards for fabric energy efficiency (e.g. insulation, glazing) in any future changes to the Building Regulations;
2. Consult on the Zero Carbon Hub’s recommendations on the levels for other on-site carbon reduction levels; and
3. Work with the housebuilding industry on options for a regime for off-site measures (e.g. community energy schemes.)
Mr Shapps concluded his announcement by saying that the Government had succeeded in “nail(ing) down a definition for zero carbon homes”, whilst not “piling unfair costs on housebuilders.”
Although there is still more work to be done on the definition of “zero carbon homes”, it is thankfully becoming clearer. Housebuilders will welcome the Government’s decision to exclude emissions from domestic appliances.