UK to be first with mandatory zero carbon homes

By law, all new homes will have to be zero-carbon rated from 2016, housing minister John Healey confirmed yesterday.
Homes will have all round better insulated walls, windows, ceilings and floors to meet proposed new energy efficiency standards and avoid any loss of energy, saving up to £150 a year in bills.

Healey said that the nation must step up the UK drive on climate change ahead of Copenhagen. He said that the new standards signalled “real momentum to change and radically re-think how we design our towns and homes for the future”.

“We are determined to see a cut in Britain’s carbon emissions but to do that we have to design and build to new green standards in the future.”

“There’s a driving force behind the green homes movement from homeowners, developers and local authorities, to reduce energy bills and carbon emissions. We’re pushing at an open door, and there is a lot of momentum to change and radically re-think how we design our homes and buildings for the future.

“New homes are 40 per cent more energy efficient now compared to 2002, but we must and can do more. The green movement is growing from the grand designs of a few, to a national movement. Recent research has even suggested that eco-factors have become just as important as location and value for money.”

Healey pledged an extra £3.2 million to boost long-term research into the design and build of energy efficient homes. The research will use new technologies and materials to provide valuable evidence for future standards and how to drive down energy bills. He also announced that a new government consortium will use their combined green buying power of potentially over £10billion to boost green skills and technology, while also driving down costs.

The announcements were made during a speech to the UK Green Building Council and Healey called on the building industry to use the public and market momentum to take action.

Offices, shops, hotels and warehouses will also need to be built differently, so Healey also launched a consultation to gather evidence on how the zero carbon standards could be applied to non-domestic buildings from 2019.

“As with zero carbon homes, non-domestic buildings will be able to reduce their emissions by going further with energy efficiency solutions or through the addition of onsite renewables. The proposals launched today outline how those emissions can be reduced both on and off site, including through community scale low carbon heat production for district networks.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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