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'Greenest ever' government claim in doubt

The government’s claim that it will be the ‘greenest ever’ has been left in a “sorry state” by today’s Budget announcement.

UK Green Building Council chief executive Paul King made the claim as he slammed today’s announcement, in particular that zero carbon targets for new homes from 2016 will only include emissions from areas covered by building regulations, not including electrical appliances like computers.

Mr King described the move as a “big step backwards” and said it meant that policy now only covered direct mitigation for two-thirds of emissions.

The Zero Carbon Hub’s report delivered to government outlined carbon compliance measures for 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 community heating networks to reduce emissions.

In the announcement in today’s growth plan, allowable solutions which mitigated carbon emissions from a new home not addressed on site, will not have to cover carbon dioxide emissions outside of those covered by Building Regulations.

Mr King said: “I don’t think there has been concerted lobbying by the housebuilding industry to get the definition changed. It is not a change they had been calling for or expecting and is counter-productive to the low-carbon industry.

“This will act as a dent in confidence after there was a national consensus on zero carbon across the board and this could see local authorities having different interpretations on standards that housebuilders will have to meet.”

Mr King added the policy would lead to “terrible levels of complexity and uncertainty” and was a blow to the products industry who had been trying to invest in innovation.

He said that the most urgent requirement now was mass refurbishment to meet carbon emissions targets, but that the only way that would happen was with an effective Green Deal which was not backed by any hard incentives in the Budget.

“The government has two very important budgets to meet; one is reducing the deficit and the other is meeting its reduction in carbon emissions targets. It is taking one very seriously and the other nowhere near seriously enough.”