Recommendations for Carbon Compliance delivered to Minister

Monday, February 21, 2011

Zero Carbon Hub has today delivered final recommendations for the Carbon Compliance levels of new homes to the Minister for Housing and Local Government, Rt. Hon. Grant Shapps MP.

Recommendations for national minimum standards of Carbon Compliance – the onsite reductions of emissions – have been developed by a Zero Carbon Hub led Task Group. The Task Group found that the proposal from July 2009, to tighten the Carbon Compliance standard by 70% (equivalent to 6 kg CO2(eq) /m2/year), may not be achievable in all cases.

Published in December 2010 as an Interim Report, recommendations are that the ‘built performance’ emissions from new homes constructed from 2016 should not exceed:

·         10 kg CO2(eq) /m2/year for detached houses

·         11 kg CO2(eq) /m2/year for other houses

·         14 kg CO2(eq) /m2/year for low rise apartment blocks[1], 2

The final report draws 11 headline recommendations which, among other things, cover:

·         As built carbon compliance limits

·         Implications for Localism

·         Development averaging

·         Weather assumptions

·         Carbon Compliance for high-rise developments

·         Allowable Solutions.

David Adams, Director, Zero Carbon Hub and Task Group Chair commented:

“These recommendations to the Minister represent an important step toward finalising a workable definition for zero carbon homes. To their great credit, the members of the expert Task Group who undertook this work have not ducked difficult issues to reach a high level of agreement. Whilst the 2016 commitment may seem some way off, an early statement by Ministers in response to these recommendations will further build confidence that the zero carbon objective is achievable and on track to be delivered.”

Commenting at the launch of the Interim Report, John Slaughter, Director, External Affairs, Home Builders Federation said:

"The Hub has undertaken a difficult and complex task very thoroughly - involving all the key parties in assembling the evidence base for its recommendations on performance standards. These will be challenging for the industry to implement, but we are confident that the Hub's ability to work through tough issues will provide a basis for the industry to resolve any concerns it may discover"

At the same time Colin Butfield, Head of Campaigns at WWF-UK, said:

“WWF supports the recommendations, as set out by the Task Group. Whilst we recognise the steps that housebuilders have already made, we feel these standards are the minimum that can still give us the chance of homes we can genuinely call zero carbon. The UK’s climate targets mean there is no slack in the system, and no other sector that can pick up the shortfall if we don’t get this right. It’s not enough just to have 'more efficient' homes, they need to be worthy of the title 'zero carbon'.”

“It's very good news that these standards will be based on how the houses actually perform rather than how they are theoretically designed. Often, in reality, energy efficiency measures do not perform as well as they appear on paper, so it’s to the Task Group's great credit that it hasn’t hidden behind the easy option and promised grand targets but based them on theoretical performance.”

The full report is available to download from the Zero Carbon Hub website www.zerocarbonhub.org.

ENDS

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Notes to editors

1. The Carbon Compliance Standards apply to built performance. For this reason the recommendations cannot be directly compared with current standards. However in addition to any potential carbon savings achieved by moving from designed to built performance, the % improvements on the 2006 standard would be:

·         60% for detached houses

·         56% for other houses

·         44% for low rise apartment blocks

2. The Zero Carbon Hub Task Group on Carbon Compliance for Tomorrow’s New Homes found that setting carbon compliance standards as a percentage improvement over a previous standard is increasingly difficult to understand and at risk of causing perverse outcomes. This report, accordingly, refers to carbon compliance in terms of an absolute limit on the predicted emissions of carbon dioxide (or equivalents in other greenhouse gases) per square metre of internal floor space.

3. Carbon Compliance represents the overall contribution to achieving zero carbon which can be attained on-site – combining good building fabric performance and use of on-site low and zero carbon energy technologies such as PV and connected heat (community heating networks) to reduce emissions. Carbon Compliance builds on Zero Carbon Hub recommendations made in Defining a Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard (November 2009).

4. Carbon Compliance measures represent only part of the proposed regime to achieve zero carbon new homes. The Government has recognised that it is not practical to achieve a fully zero carbon new home through on-site measures alone, and has proposed a scheme of Allowable Solutions whereby developers contribute to the cost of off-site measures to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions. The parameters of this scheme have not yet been published.

5. The Task Group’s recommendations are based on a projection of the carbon emission factors that will apply for 2016. They are not the same as the factors used in the current version of SAP, which would give different results. The recommended levels will need to be rebased in due course when the Carbon Compliance tool for 2016, using the correct 2016 carbon emission factors, is available.

[1] The unit of measurement is kilograms of carbon dioxide (or equivalent greenhouse gases) per square metre of internal floor space per year.

2 A key element of the Group’s recommendations is to ensure that the potential gap between “as designed” and “as built” standards is closed. For this reason the recommendations cannot be directly compared with current standards.