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Costs and collaboration the keys to zero carbon targets

The cost of building new homes must not rise above today’s level if the Government’s targets for house building are to be met - and house builders must collaborate with their supply chains to ensure this happens, Barratt chief executive Mark Clare said.

Mr Clare was speaking at the launch of the UK Green Building Council’s zero carbon task force report into the definition of zero carbon.

“House builders must work together with their supply chain to ensure the delivery of high quality housing that meets the Government’s zero carbon targets,” said Mr Clare, who chaired the task force.
“It’s a real challenge balancing affordability and quality but we must keep it within today’s cost.”

The report proposes that the majority of zero carbon homes and communities should generate their own energy but that developers would be allowed near or off-site renewable energy if necessary.

It is expected most of this will be medium sized wind farms and combined heat and power plants. Using nuclear energy was ruled out.

But if this is impossible then as a last resort -developers could pay into a ‘community energy fund’, which will ensure equal or greater carbon -savings -delivered through new infrastructure.

Mr Clare said: “We have to make sure the fund is channelled into good community-based schemes. Local authorities will be responsible for delivering on the fund and this needs to be driven by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.”

Concerns were raised over planners’ enthusiasm for the schemes but the GBC said specialised people would be brought into councils to deal with the projects.

The GBC showed the report to the Treasury and other government departments this week.

GBC chief executive Paul King said: “Renewable electricity is the main challenge but we hope that with this definition we can embrace the broader challenge of what the Government wants to achieve by 2016.”

Targets

2016 All new homes and schools zero carbon
2018 All new public sector buildings zero carbon
2019 All new buildings zero carbon
2020 3 million new homes

What happens to existing buildings?

This week the first Parliamentary inquiry began into how to raise the green credentials of existing offices, shops and warehouses.

The All Party Urban Development Group is chaired by Labour MP Clive Betts and includes former construction minister Nick Raynsford.

It will look into what ministers, city leaders and property owners and occupiers need to do to reduce the environmental impact of commercial property.

Concerns are likely to be raised about the lack of clear guidance over standards, information on costs and benefits of schemes and how the industry can bear those costs. A final report is due in July.