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Consumers condemned to higher bills by scrapping of zero carbon policy

Government has condemned consumers to higher bills by announcing today that it will not proceed with the zero carbon Allowable Solutions carbon offsetting scheme, or the proposed 2016 increase in on-site energy efficiency standards for new homes

Dave Sowden, CEO of the Sustainable Energy Association said:

“Industry has been disappointed time and time again by the Government’s lack of ambition on Zero Carbon Homes Policy and now a further backward step has been taken.

“Disappointed by the Part L amendments implemented in April 2014 which committed to only a 6% improvement in new domestic homes on 2010 carbon compliance. This lower option was used instead of the preferred 26% improvement, the halfway point to ZCH homes in 2016.

“Disappointed in June 2014, when the 2016 target was changed to reduce emissions by 44% on 2006 levels – actually only the same as the halfway point referred to above – and allowing developers to ‘make up’ the rest of the carbon reductions through ‘Allowable Solutions’.

“Now we are told that neither the Allowable Solution scheme nor the proposed energy efficiency improvements will be taken forward in 2016.

“The Government’s commitment to Zero Carbon Homes was intended to create a pathway to zero carbon buildings. Albeit ambitious, this was an achievable target that industry had the ability to deliver if the Government had ever provided certainty.

“This failure to set a long-term vision for energy efficiency in buildings will result in higher fuel bills for consumers and also a huge bill for the future Governments dealing with retrofit improvements to poorly functioning buildings.”

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Notes to editors

  1. HM Treasury Report 
  2. In 2007 Government introduced a policy for all new homes to be constructed to meet a zero carbon standard from 2016. The Zero Carbon Buildings policy formed part of the Government’s wider strategy to achieving the Climate Change Act 2008 (CCA) target mandating an 80% reduction in CO2 from the 1990 levels, used as a baseline to 2050.
  3. The policy, required all new homes from 2016 to mitigate, through various measures, all the carbon emissions produced on-site as a result of the regulated energy use. This includes energy used to provide space heating and cooling, hot water and fixed lighting, as outlined in Part L1A of the Building Regulations. Emissions resulting from cooking and ‘plug-in’ appliances such as computers and televisions are not being addressed as part of this policy.
  4. The policy was expected to be implemented through progressive tightening of the Building Regulation (Part L). In 2013 Government announced that Building Regulations 2013 would require a 6% improvement in new homes on 2010 carbon compliance standards (instead of 26% improvement – halfway point to ZCH in 2016). In June 2014 the 2016 target was watered down further to a 44% reduction on 2006 standards which was actually the same as the ‘halfway’ to zero carbon approach given as an option on the Building Regulations 2013 consultation. This would actually only be half the standard originally proposed with the remainder being made up through Allowable Solutions. SEA calculations suggested that average fuel bills could be up to a third higher than they would have been had the changes to the building regulations not been watered down.
  5.  The 2016 legislation would allow companies to buy exemptions through ‘Allowable Solutions’. For developers that choose not to go ‘zero-carbon’ they could instead build a home with emissions 44% lower than 2006 levels and make up the remainder by contributing to ‘green schemes’ at a cost of £38-£90 per tonne of carbon saved. Ultimately this backtracked on the Government’s original promise of all homes being required to meet zero carbon standards by 2016.
  6.  Government has now said it will not proceed with the zero carbon Allowable Solutions carbon offsetting scheme, or the proposed 2016 increase in on-site energy efficiency standards for new homes.
  7.  In 2013/14 The Sustainable Energy Association as part of a campaign group including ACE, CHPA, STA, REA, WWF and BEAMA opposed changes to parts of the Planning & Energy Act 2008 which will remove the ability for Local Authorities to specify higher energy efficiency standards than Building Regulations in new build. In addition, the group argues that calculations made in the Part L impact assessment relied on incorrect assumptions and out of date data. As a result, a £21 million net benefit to the economy was ignored as was the impact on household bills. For more information see our Green Energy Broadsheet, Homes fit for the future publication and press release on the Planning & Energy Act changes.
  8. Zero Carbon Homes | blog
  9. SEA blog Next steps to Zero Carbon Homes – Allowable Solutions | blog
  10. New Building Regulations will deprive householders of fuel bill savings | blog
  11. The Sustainable Energy Association is a member based industry body offering innovative policy solutions that link up building-level technologies and the wider energy system to achieve a low carbon, secure energy future for the UK, benefits for UK consumers, and commercial growth for businesses working in the sector.

 

Friday, July 10th, 2015