Linden Homes has welcomed the long-awaited announcement by Government of consultation on its ‘Allowable Solutions’ proposals.
Many of the ideas proposed – including the retro-fitting of existing homes, the option to pay into a fund which would invest in carbon abatement programmes and the over-arching principle that house builders should decide for themselves how they meet their obligations – are all initiatives that Linden Homes has been promoting within the industry and with decision-makers for some time.
But while this is a positive move – in that more detail has now been provided – it does not go far enough if the UK is to achieve its national aims. Under current government proposals, ‘allowable solutions’ are, in essence, the final option available to house builders when everything that can be done as part of the build process to reduce carbon has been achieved, and yet a small amount of carbon remains to be abated.
The wider picture of zero carbon policy, including Fabric Energy Efficiency Measures and Carbon Compliance, is much more challenging for house builders. While the Government acknowledges, in relation to Affordable Solutions, that ‘it is in no one’s interest to ask house builders to deliver carbon savings at exorbitant costs, which compromise the viability of development, or to divert resources into delivering expensive carbon savings when more cost effective opportunities are available’, this principle is being ignored in relation to zero carbon policy as a whole.
With likely costs of up to £16,500 per plot over and above the 2010 regulations[i], Andrew Richards, managing director at Linden Homes, thinks that the Government needs to be bolder: “It is refreshing to see realistic solutions – of exactly the sort that we have been proposing – being advanced by Government. But they will only impact the tail end of what we are expected to do. The Government needs to be much bolder and to extend the ideas and principles in these proposals to the wider effort we need to make.
Richards continued: “Instead of taking a prescriptive and onerous approach to delivering zero carbon, we would encourage government to embrace more widely, the ideas of retro-fitting and carbon abatement funds. The government should let house builders decide how to meet their obligation.
“For some time now, Linden Homes has been promoting the ‘payment fund’ solution – we’ve called it our New Homes Sustainability Bonus. It’s geared to retrofitting the existing housing stock, rather than imposing additional regulation and disproportionate additional costs on to the house builder, and ultimately the home owner. It would deliver exactly the same carbon savings as the proposed 2016 Building Regs – almost immediately and at much lower cost to the industry. It could also be used to greatly lower domestic water consumption.”
A large scale retrofitting programme could address the jobs challenge: figures collected by the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency show a drop in installations of 97% in April 2013 compared to the previous year. Retro-fitting, funded by a levy, could be implemented and effective almost immediately: creating jobs and saving both carbon and water. Two thirds of the homes that will be here in 2050 are already built; to focus exclusively on improving already efficient new homes is arguably an inefficient use of resources.
Richards added: “2016 is almost upon us, yet the Government’s plans are way off track. The latest Zero Carbon Taskforce report reveals a worrying lack of progress towards defining details. We can avoid further delay and confusion by implementing our approach right now, saving carbon, creating jobs and delivering homes straightaway.”
[i] Source; Zero Carbon Hub
For further information, contact Tracy Mannion or Claire McCowan at Remarkable Group on 01962 893893.
16 September 2013
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