Timeline to Zero Carbon

What is the Timeline?

The Timeline Group was set up in 2009 to create a report on a quarterly basis that would feed directly into the '2016 Task Force' meetings co-chaired by the Minister of State responsible for Housing / Building Regulations and the HBF Executive Chairman Stewart Baseley.

The purpose of the group is to carefully consider those factors which are enabling and assisting the journey to meet the 2016 Zero Carbon trajectory and also to consider the road blocks and concerns that are affecting this objective. Specifically, the group reviews each critical element which impacts on the journey to zero carbon homes from 2016 mindful of the following considerations:

- The current status on a Red-Amber-Green (RAG) scale.

- What needs to be done by industry and government to improve the RAG status.


The Timeline group has representatives from all sectors of industry, related associations and 'green' lobby groups and is formed of the following organisations:


Current Timeline

September 2013 – Red/Amber: Requires substantial attention.

Click on the boxes below for an explanation behind each individual colour status.

Minimum Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard (FEES)
  • The minimum FEES for low and zero carbon homes has been included within the Code for Sustainable Homes since November 2010, although there is little feedback from industry on its implementation due to the low numbers of homes built to date. 
  • Concern was again raised over the lack of skills and knowledge being embedded in the industry relating in general to increasing housing standards in relation to energy and carbon reduction. However this concern is reflected in the Knowledge & Skills and Scale up sections so does not influence the RAG status of the FEES itself. 
  • The group were not able to consider the status of this element in respect of the proposed introduction of an energy efficiency target for Part L 2013 because the detail of the final implementation is still to be released. The impact of the final position for Part L 2013, and any implications from the Housing Standards Review, will be considered at the next meeting. Therefore an element of risk remains that the status of this item may be re-graded. 
  • It is recognised that the FEES is likely to help ensure we are EPBD compliant for 2020. 
Red Amber
Carbon compliance
  • There remains very limited action from government on the outstanding additional work from the Carbon Compliance Standard (CCS) report (Feb 2011), with the exception of the commissioning of the Design vs As-built Performance Gap project. The outstanding items include: i) modelling additional small dwellings, ii) determining the level for buildings over four stories, iii) determining the weather assumption to be used, and iv) determining ‘development averaging’. Carrying out/ commissioning this work without further delay would cause the RAG status to be improved. (Government previously confirmed to the Task Force its intent to consider these issues in preparation for regulation change in 2016). 
  • The question on Carbon Compliance within the Allowable Solutions consultation is helpful, although timely publication of consultation responses and related policy statements will be required to provide certainty to industry. 
  • The group welcomed the fact that the Zero Carbon Hub has commissioned a cost review to further inform industry and government of the impact of the original proposals (Feb 2011). 
  • Opportunities for trialling Carbon Compliance will now need to be considered in light of the Housing Standards Review consultation which seeks to limit carbon and energy targets for new homes to those set in National Building Regulations. The group felt it should await the outcome of the consultation before reflecting on this aspect in respect of the RAG status. 
  • The potential simplification of the zero carbon hierarchy, and whether there was a need for a Carbon Compliance standard at all, was again briefly discussed but no conclusions were drawn at this stage.
Red Amber
Allowable solutions
  • The group welcomed the Allowable Solutions consultation, which it believes provides a good basis on which to take forward an agreement on the guiding principles for an Allowable Solutions framework. However they were extremely concerned about the implied timescales to get a scheme operational. 
  • This element has therefore been re-graded from RED - CRITICAL to RED/AMBER overall. However the group were clear that they believed the Policy aspect to be AMBER, but the Timing issue to be RED, requiring urgent and decisive action. This is explained below.
  • Given that policy decisions may not be concluded until early 2014 at best, the legislative requirements for establishing Allowable Solutions arrangements in Building Regulations, the need to establish any national fund and verification arrangements and to generate liquidity in funding mechanisms, the group were very concerned that it may not be possible to have a fully operational Allowable Solutions regime in place from 2016. 
  • Urgent action is required to provide a critical path analysis showing the realistic implementation timeline for Allowable Solutions, which should show both government and industry actions, including for any required legislative changes. It should also take into account any likely delays due to purdah around the general election in May 2015. 
  • In terms of the overarching policy framework for Allowable Solutions, the group believed that the most important single policy decision will be to determine the price cap. Early announcement on this and other aspects of the framework will give some certainty to developer and industry future planning and would help towards re-grading this aspect towards GREEN on the RAG scale. 
  • The preference for a national policy framework for Allowable Solutions stated in the Consultation, together with the potential implications of the Housing Standards Review, may help to curtail Local Authorities creating their own bespoke Carbon Funds. This addresses the group's previous concerns over the proliferation of varying local methodologies for Allowable Solutions mechanisms.
Red Amber
Scaling up examples of low carbon and zero carbon homes
  • Consistent ‘scale up’ and dissemination of learning prior to regulations being introduced is an important element of safely and efficiently delivering the zero carbon homes policy. 
  • There is a need to follow the Research, Development, Demonstration, Deployment cycle, but the group were very concerned about the lack of demonstrators which has resulted from a number of issues including funding being withdrawn from HCA to support advanced standards, uncertainty over the zero carbon definition, and the fact that the rate of build has been much slower than anticipated when the zero carbon policy was first announced. It was noted that a continuous improvement model with a knowledge sharing loop for the whole of industry is important to support ‘scale-up’. 
  • There is therefore significant concern that the numbers of dwellings required to meet the ‘scale up’ requirements will not be met. This significantly reduces the predictability and planned nature of scale up and the opportunity to disseminate learning. However, projects such as AimC4, undertaken by industry, are expected to provide some learning. 
  • The Code for Sustainable Homes has been of use in providing examples to advanced standards but the Housing Standards Review is likely to curtail this small body of evidence fairly quickly. 
  • To improve the RAG status, a driver needs to be put in place to allow for learning to be gathered and fed back to industry as a whole. 
National compliance methodology - SAP
  • The group emphasised that the issues surrounding SAP are a serious and severe risk to the delivery of Zero Carbon Homes from 2016 and hence the RAG status remains at RED. 
  • The immediate challenge for SAP is to get a Part L 2013 version of the software to the market this year, ideally by October. It was noted that the industry has offered to help BRE (as the SAP Contractor) to get a pre-commercial version out on trial. 
  • Serious concern was expressed over the potential effect on stalling innovation if changes are not made to SAP in a consistent and timely manner. In particular, barriers to achieving acceptance of products into appendix Q continues to restrict innovation. Zero Carbon Homes – Programme Delivery Timeline, September 2013.
  • In order to improve the RAG status of this item, a clear and unambiguous roadmap is required for the delivery of SAP 2015, to provide certainty to industry to carryout R & D and enable the sector to ‘model’ 2016 building types.
Designed vs As-Built Performance

The Zero Carbon Hub has been commissioned by DCLG to carry out a full review of the Design versus ‘As Built’ performance gap and has provided significant funding for this work. The work programme is focused on developing solutions without the need for regulation. Work Groups have been established and good progress is being made. An Interim Progress Report was published in July and the project is now in an evidence gathering and analysis phase. 


Knowledge and Skills
  • The lack of policy clarity in some areas from government is delaying investment in the development of knowledge and skills across the individual construction sectors. It is helpful that the Skills Council is trying to develop solutions but the lack of certainty and limited house building output (particularly amongst SMEs) continues to leave the group seriously concerned. 
  • Organisations such as NHBC, HBF, HBA, FMB et al continue to work with CITB ConstructionSkills to assess the current needs of the industry and produce clear evidence of shortfalls going forward. 
  • Industry and government are working together to produce and disseminate information to aid understanding of the detail of Part L 2013 changes, including development of a 'pattern book'. 
  • A number of events are being held across England by the Zero Carbon Hub during September and October to provide an understanding of the Governments recent announcements on Allowable Solutions, Housing Standards and Part L 2013.
Community energy and infrastructure enabling actions
  • Whilst the definition of Carbon Compliance does not in itself result in increased reliance on community and district energy solutions, there is a need for a suite of ‘off the shelf’ legal and administrative frameworks to help speed deployment and reduce costs (improve viability) where these networks are technically appropriate or stipulated locally. However concern remains on the legal issues surrounding the 'Landlord and Tenant' act with regard to community energy solutions. 
  • The DECC strategy on Heat offers some clarity on the role that district heating should play in the journey towards decarbonised heat supply in the UK. However, concern was expressed by the group around the policy gaps which still exist which may prevent this vision transforming into reality. At present the majority of the house building industry is focusing on individual/ small scale energy solutions and there is a lack of funding for community schemes. 
  • Allowable Solutions could potentially help the development of appropriate community-scale energy solutions, so clarity on this could move this element towards GREEN on the RAG scale.