Scrapping Zero Carbon

The Government’s decision to scrap the 2016 Zero Carbon Homes policy could hinder future investment in sustainable homes and building materials in the UK, warns roofing and facades manufacturer Marley Eternit.

Gavin White, product and responsible sourcing manager at Marley Eternit, comments: "We are very disappointed by the Government’s decision not to proceed with Zero Carbon Homes in 2016 as planned. Whilst we have already seen the scrapping of the Code for Sustainable Homes and the watering down of the original Zero Carbon target, this time the Government hasn’t just shifted the goalposts, they have removed them entirely and taken away any incentive to further improve low carbon construction.

"We do agree with the overall driver behind the decision, that there is a massive shortfall of housing in the UK and we desperately need to catch up, but does it really need to be at the expense of sustainability? Over the past ten years, housebuilders and manufacturers have spent millions working on innovative low carbon construction methods and materials to meet the 2016 target, only to be told at the last minute that we don’t need to make our homes any more energy efficient than they already are. Consider the impact on manufacturers that have new low carbon products in the pipeline specifically to help meet zero carbon next year."

The Government announced the end of the UK’s Zero Carbon Building policy in its Productivity Plan on Friday 10 July. The 2016 Zero Carbon Homes target is being dropped, as is the 2019 target for non-domestic zero carbon buildings. It also means there will be no further changes to Part L in any form in 2016.

Gavin White adds: "The decision to remove the Zero Carbon target undermines confidence in Government policy and jeopardises future investment in low carbon materials. Over the past decade, sustainability has become a key driver for the development of new construction products and is often one of the most important criteria when deciding whether to bring a product to market. There has been tangible value for customers but there is now a danger that low carbon building materials that go beyond today’s efficiency levels could just be a nice to have. The one saving grace is that the new BRE Home Quality Mark does incentivise housebuilders to build more sustainable homes but unfortunately it is only a voluntary standard.

"The Government’s decision to scrap further energy efficiency requirements to quickly build more houses does seem rather short sighted. While it is understandable that they want to allow current Part L requirements to bed in before they push for zero carbon, there is still the challenge of meeting the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive which requires the UK to deliver nearly zero carbon buildings from 2021 (and 2019 in the public sector). So the Government now needs to work out how this will be achieved in just three and a half years."

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