Allowable Solutions for Zero Carbon Homes – towards a workable framework

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Zero Carbon Hub today launches proposals for a delivery framework for Allowable Solutions. The proposed framework shows how developers will be able to reach the zero carbon standard set for 2016 and is a direct response to the Housing Minister’s call in February this year for a workable approach to Allowable Solutions, the third and final part of the Zero Carbon Homes Policy hierarchy1.

The proposed framework, which has been developed in close collaboration with a range of collaborators representing housebuilding, planning, financial and government interests, proposes a system that will meet key working principles, including flexibility, simplicity and transparency in delivery.

At present the Government has yet to define what will constitute an Allowable Solution, however on-site, near-site and off-site carbon-saving projects are expected to be available. The framework sets out the mechanism by which affordable, verifiable carbon savings projects might be funded and how they might be delivered in a way that encourages additional investment, limits the impact on those who are making Allowable Solutions payments, encourages innovation and fair competition and, crucially, gives the option for local choice in the projects that are funded.

The framework has been developed following consultation with representatives of organisations who will be involved in the implementation of the Allowable Solutions framework. The aim of the report now published is to provide a consolidated proposal for Government policy development. Any comments on the proposals are welcomed with feedback directed by email in the first instance to info@zerocarbonhub.org with the words ‘Allowable Solutions’ included in the email subject line.

Launching the report, Neil Jefferson, Chief Executive, Zero Carbon Hub commented:

“This proposed framework will catalyse the establishment of a scheme for Allowable Solutions and provides the opportunity to add value to local energy schemes where they can really be of benefit.

“The proposals have already received widespread support, but over the summer months we would welcome views from all those who will be involved in operating and dealing with Allowable Solutions.”

Receiving the Allowable Solutions framework, Rt Hon. Grant Shapps MP said:

"Back in February I challenged industry to come forward with their thinking on how to make Allowable Solutions work in the real world. That the Zero Carbon Hub are taking the lead in drawing together views from across the sector is excellent, helping to keep momentum behind our drive toward 2016. I will read this report with great interest."

Marco Marijewycz who led this work on behalf of the Hub commented:

“Assembling the essential elements of the Allowable Solutions framework, with valuable support and input from a number of key groups and individuals, has pointed to the enormous potential possessed by a workable framework for Allowable Solutions. Such a framework could help overcome the key energy, climate change, economic and societal challenges that our nation faces.

“The engagement process which the Hub has embarked upon here has illuminated golden opportunities that a well designed Allowable Solutions framework could unlock - from catalysing cost effective, community empowered carbon savings through to helping rebalance the country’s economy. This is not the end of the process and some key questions remain, requiring further essential engagement with the key stakeholder groups in order to take this well supported proposed framework from vision to a living breathing reality.“

Cllr Gary Porter, Chairman of the LGA’s Housing and Environment Board, said:

“The proposed framework sets out a promising way of promoting sustainable development. Importantly, it puts local communities first, which would ensure that development delivered through Allowable Solutions would not only provide environmental benefits but would also fit with the strategic planning aims of the local area.”

Supporting the launch of the framework, Richard Wilcox, Head of Social Banking at The Co-operative Bank, said:

"A lack of finance is stifling the potential contribution that community energy projects could make to the UK’s future energy mix as well as major economic and social benefits they also bring.

"We support the solution proposed in this report whereby Allowable Solutions payments perform the role of an ‘equity cushion’ as a means of bringing some much needed finance to the sector."

Paul King, Chef Executive, UK Green Building Council said:

"The final part of the Zero Carbon trilogy is as thoroughly researched and evidence-based as the previous volumes on fabric standards and carbon compliance. An essential and page-turning read for anyone who is concerned about making new homes as low carbon as possible, this report sets out sensible, practical and flexible options for genuinely mitigating the last element of emissions associated with regulated energy use in ways that can stimulate further innovation and development of both on and off-site solutions.”

John Slaughter, Director of External Affairs, Home Builders Federation said:

“The report demonstrates the Hub’s value to all those involved in delivering the zero carbon policy. It sets out clearly the need for Allowable Solutions to facilitate and not frustrate housing supply – a vital consideration as we look to tackle the country’s acute housing shortage. It offers a practical, competitive and flexible means for house builders to meet future carbon reduction requirements that cannot be achieved on site, whilst assisting with wider objectives for a lower carbon future.”

Roger Humber, House Builders Association said:

“This proposal has all the ingredients to help small and medium sized housebuilders with one element of what still remains an enormous challenge. The proposal that housebuilders should be able to use a buy-out arrangement is critical, in that it could simplify and reduce regulatory risk. Provided the shadow price of carbon is set at a reasonable level, by contributing to either community or private energy funds, housebuilders will be able to pass on their remaining non-fabric obligations to third parties, who can then undertake large scale district energy schemes, or other localist carbon mitigation arrangements, cost effectively.”

Ian Manders, Deputy Director, Combined Heat and Power Association said:

"I heartily welcome the Allowable Solutions framework as presented by the Zero-Carbon Hub. The funds created should enable investment in community energy infrastructure which will future-proof local homes and public and commercial buildings by providing them with zero-carbon heat and power. Local councils will prove to be the key to planning this infrastructure for their local community.”

The report is available for download from the Zero Carbon Hub website at www.zerocarbonhub.org  

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact 0845 888 7620

Notes to Editors

1 The Zero Carbon Homes policy hierarchy is composed of three parts, Fabric Energy Efficiency, Carbon Compliance and Allowable Solutions. The policy addresses the operational energy used by a new home - that which is currently taken into consideration by the Building Regulations, namely heating, hot water, fixed lighting and building services. March 2011 Budget announcements clarified that the energy used for cooking or that used by plug in appliances is not included within operational energy which is addressed by the Zero Carbon Homes policy. Further details about the policy can be viewed on the Zero Carbon Hub website www.zerocarbonhub.org