The Coalition Government has strengthened the energy requirements for new homes significantly since we came into office, reducing energy bills for home owners and saving carbon as we move towards the zero carbon home standard from 2016. We are now putting in place the final piece of the jigsaw by bringing forward legislation to enable the framework for allowable solutions.
The zero carbon homes standard will be achieved through a combination of high energy efficiency standards, further measures on the dwelling to mitigate carbon, such as solar panels, and allowable solutions. From 2016, we intend to introduce a further strengthening of the energy performance requirements which we anticipate to be set at a level equivalent to level 4 energy standards of the Code for Sustainable Homes.
But making all new homes zero carbon ‘on site’ is not always physically feasible or cost effective for house builders, so the Government will also introduce a system to enable remaining carbon emissions abatement to be met through flexible, cost-effective allowable solutions. Allowable solutions will be ‘off site’ measures to be supported by house builders. These could include creating or expanding connections to sustainable energy sources (e.g. district heating schemes) or improving existing homes’ energy efficiency by retro-fitting measures such as solid wall insulation.
A consultation was held last summer on options for allowable solutions—principles, price cap and delivery methods. This proposed a menu of options for house builders, including taking action themselves, contracting with a third party provider to deliver allowable solutions on their behalf, or making a payment to a fund which invests in projects equivalent to their obligations for carbon abatement. The Government will publish its response to the consultation shortly.
We need to have a legislative framework to introduce allowable solutions alongside the well established approach to setting energy performance standards through Part L of the Building Regulations.
Our approach represents a much more flexible and cost effective way forward for house builders. But we recognise that this will represent a bigger challenge for small house builders than for larger house builders. That is why we think an exemption is necessary and we will consult on how an exemption will work, to ensure that it is targeted effectively and is proportionate.
Zero carbon is one of the most ambitious standards for reducing carbon from new homes anywhere in the world. We have taken great strides with the changes to Building Regulations we have made since 2010; legislation for allowable solutions will enable us to complete the picture in time for 2016.