19th August, 2013

Developers could undertake energy efficiency improvements to existing properties and count these towards zero carbon targets for new house building projects, under measures being proposed by the Government.

Carbon offsetting through 'off-site’ retrofit installations is one of a series of measures Ministers are proposing in a recent consultation by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) that forms the next step in the Government’s policy to ensure all new homes are built to zero carbon standards by 2016. It follows the recent announcement that long-awaited improvements to energy efficiency standards for new homes and non-domestic buildings under Part L of the 2010 Building Regulations will go ahead, but not until next year.

Allowable Solutions
The consultation document sets out a series of so called 'Allowable Solutions’ to help developers achieve the tough zero carbon targets more flexibly. It is being launched in response to industry concerns that it could be too costly or technically too challenging to meet the zero carbon homes standard entirely 'on-site’ through measures such as fabric insulation and renewable energy generation systems.

Instead of undertaking 100 per cent of carbon abatement 'on site’, the DCLG is also proposing that developers could invest in 'off-site’ renewable heat or energy schemes or even build new  homes to a higher energy efficiency standard than currently required under Part L before 2016 and 'bank’ the difference. Further options being considered include investing in a 'carbon offsetting’ fund or using a third party 'Allowable Solutions provider’ to deliver carbon abatement measures sufficient to meet the house-builders’ zero carbon obligations.

Non-domestic buildings
The proposals also confirm that carbon offsetting measures to meet zero carbon targets should also be available for non-domestic buildings.

"Substantial and cost-effective reductions in carbon emissions from buildings are an essential part of our national effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent on 1990 levels by 2050," said the DCLG. "It was originally intended that new homes would meet the whole of the zero carbon standard 'on-site’. However, the Government recognises that it would not be cost-effective at this time, affordable or technically feasible to meet the zero carbon homes standard in all cases solely through measures on the dwelling itself. Therefore the Government proposes that house builders can achieve the zero carbon standard by mitigating the remaining emissions 'off-site’."

Measures welcomed
The consultation was welcomed by the UK Green Building Council, which has been lobbying for 'Allowable Solutions’ to form part of the delivery model for zero carbon homes.
"The proposals for how builders can meet the zero carbon 2016 target seem sensible, and build on the recommendations made by a UK-GBC Task Group back in 2008, and extensive work since carried out by the industry through the Zero Carbon Hub," said UK-GBC chief executive Paul King.

"We look forward to considering the proposals in more detail and working with members to formally respond."

New fabric energy efficiency standard
The consultation is also seeking feedback from industry on Government plans to introduce a new fabric energy efficiency target on top of the uplift in a Target Emissions Rate under Part L, of which further details are expected to be announced later this week.

The 10-week consultation will run until October 15 2013.

Source: http://www.greenwisebusiness.co.uk/news/developers-could-meet-zero-carbon-homes-target-through-offsite-retrofitting-4052.aspx

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