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Carbon targets branded unachievable

The Zero Carbon Hub has warned that the target of a 70 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from new houses by 2016 is not achievable.

In a report published last month, the hub said meeting the target would constrain the range of houses that could be built.

It called for built performance emissions from new homes from 2016 to be scaled down by between 44 and 60 per cent.

The hub is a public/private partnership established to take day-to-day operational responsibility for co-ordinating delivery of low and zero carbon new homes. It said its taskforce would undertake further work on a number of areas before publishing a final report in early 2011.

These areas include:

  • The appropriate carbon compliance standard for high rise apartment blocks;
  • The sensitivity of the carbon compliance level to different assumptions for the price of allowable solutions;
  • Whether it would be appropriate for regional weather data to be used in calculating the carbon compliance of new homes, in order to reflect variations in climate;
  • How local circumstances and aspirations can best be accommodated within the carbon compliance regime.

The hub established a taskforce of 25 stakeholders, including house building and building supplies representatives to contribute to the report. But opinions were divided about the workings of the group.

One stakeholder, the House Builders Association, criticised the workings of the taskforce. HBA strategic policy adviser Roger Humber said the report was “excessively political”.

He said: “The HBA believes that the hub recommendation threatens the loss of some house types, particularly those designed for first-time buyers.”

Home Builders Federation director of external affairs John Slaughter welcomed the report.

He said: “The hub has undertaken a difficult and complex task very thoroughly - involving all the key parties in assembling the evidence base for its recommendations on performance standards.

“These will be challenging for the industry to implement, but we are confident that the hub’s ability to work through tough issues will provide a basis for the industry to resolve any concerns it may discover.”

Zero Carbon Hub director David Adams said: “It is critical that the industry has a workable definition for zero carbon homes as soon as possible and this proposal to the minister is an important step forward. I am very pleased with how well the taskgroup worked. There is genuine desire to get this right.”

Last month Mr Adams joined Willmott Dixon as head of retrofit. Meanwhile, housing minister Grant Shapps said details of the government’s definition of zero carbon would be released early this year.

In December he announced that all new non-domestic buildings would be zero carbon from 2019, with public sector buildings leading the way in 2018.


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