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Green experts welcome zero carbon plans

Industry figures have welcomed moves to allow new zero-carbon homes to offset their carbon usage without the use of “green bling”.

The Government is consulting on how new standards that all new homes should be zero-carbon by 2016 can be achieved.

The proposals mean that buildings would have to meet minimum efficiency standards, with the remaining carbon usage offset through ‘off-site’ means, meaning homes would not necessarily have to be adorned in solar power units and wind turbines.

The consultation on the plans closed yesterday, with experts welcoming the moves.

The UK Green Building Council said in its response that it welcomed the proposal “to remove the requirement for all renewable energy to be provided onsite or by a direct physical connection.”

Consultancy Inbuilt director Neil Cutland said: “Fundamentally we welcome that approach, and we think the allowable solutions reflect our philosophy of linking old and new developments.”

Inbuilt has dubbed some of the add-on power supplies commonly used on zero-carbon properties “green bling”.

As part of the government proposals, instead of direct connections, house builders could use a variety of methods to offset carbon usage.

The UKGBC said: “We disagree with the inclusion of ‘retrofitting works undertaken by the developer to transform the energy efficiency of existing buildings in the vicinity of the developer’. We believe that offsetting emissions in existing homes is not a solution. We need radical action in both new and existing homes, it is not an either/or situation.”

The council supports a community energy fund to be used to offset emissions through regional energy efficiency plans.

“The CEF would allow developers to pay into a managed fund at a price set a margin above the cost of installing appropriate community level zero carbon technologies. This would be used to install strategic, well-planned community scale installations in accordance with the regional/local Energy Masterplan recommended above to achieve genuinely additional carbon savings, which could be audited by the CEF,” it said.

Mr Cutland said that it was important also to consider how carbon usage will eventually be monitored: “The consultation is all good stuff, but it raises issues about policing and regulatory concerns.”

“There’s a need to test these allowable solutions too. The way to do that is for bodies like the Homes and Communities Agency to enable and facilitate that.”