Zero carbon homes definition due – and then the axe falls
An intensive programme of work has started to finalise a definition of zero carbon homes as quickly as possible, Building reported. The pressure us on to rush out a definition before the government cuts funding to the Zero Carbon Hub, the body designed to implement the new standard from 2016.
Last week Grant Shapps, the housing minister, wrote to the public-private Zero Carbon Hub organisation, to say the government would seek to stop its subsidy, of about £500 000, once a definition of the standard had been agreed. He also reiterated his pledge to finalise the definition “within weeks”.
Since Shapp’s letter, government officials have worked with the Hub to arrive at a final definition by the end of the summer. The Hub itself has received assurances from officials that funding will not be cut immediately and that the minister is supportive of the body.
But the House Builders Association has voiced fears that Shapps’ desire for an early definition of zero carbon homes may lead to a weak definition that causes greater confusion and jeopardises investment.
In a separate story, Building reported that a new survey of 7,000 property professionals found that three-quarters think the zero carbon targets are unrealistic.
The report, called Hitting the Green Wall … and Beyond, was undertaken by the British Property Federation, law firm Taylor Wessing, and research and communications consultancy Spada.
It found that 76% of respondents think that the government’s plans for making all new housing zero carbon by 2016 are unrealistic, while 73% believe plans to make new commercial property zero carbon by 2019 are unrealistic.
However, respondents are also convinced that the ‘stick’ of regulation is most likely to drive progress in future, highlighting the need for closer industry-government collaboration.
Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “With an industry that is sceptical about carbon reduction targets, closer collaboration between government and the industry is essential if these are to be met. Government will need to work with all sectors to understand fragmented views and identify why certain sectors feel the targets are more achievable than others”.