Government sets out next steps on Allowable Solutions

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The Government has today released the long awaited response to its most recent consultation on zero carbon homes, Next steps to zero carbon homes – Allowable Solutions.

The release has been timed to coincide with proposed new legislation via the Infrastructure Bill to enable the Allowable Solutions mechanism. 

Although the consultation was substantially concerned with design principles for Allowable Solutions - which allows house builders to offset carbon emissions that cannot cost effectively be saved on site - the first question sought views on the minimum energy performance standard of the home before this mechanism can come into play. This is the minimum standard that house builders will have to achieve through energy efficiency and efficient and low carbon technologies on the site of the home, and therefore is the standard that will shape the performance of our future homes.

The consultation asked if Government should base its on-site energy performance standard on those recommended by the Zero Carbon Hub, an industry-led body set up with Government funding to take day-to-day operational responsibility for achieving the 2016 target. In 2011 the Hub proposed a consensus built standard of energy performance for the zero carbon definition. In the consultation, 70 per cent of the respondents were in favour of the Zero Carbon Hub standard, while more than 70 per cent felt that the proposed standards did not go far enough and higher standards should be considered.

Louise Sunderland, Senior Sustainability Advisor at the UK Green Building Council, said: “The introduction of legislation to enable the Allowable Solutions mechanism and the release of this long-awaited consultation summary is a welcome signal of the Government’s commitment to deliver this policy.

“What is worrying is that the clear support shown through the consultation for the Zero Carbon Hub energy performance standard for our new zero carbon homes has been ignored. In its response to this consultation Government has again reiterated its intention to require a lower standard for our new homes than that previously defined. We would urge Government to take the opportunity, before releasing further detail on the energy performance standard, to reconsider the feedback from the public consultation and the consensus built by the Zero Carbon Hub. We must take advantage of the huge progress already made by our house building industry and deliver the full benefits to future occupants.”

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