The government has launched the consultation into the definition of zero carbon.

Housing minister Margaret Beckett announced the proposals for making all new homes zero carbon from 2016, describing it as an “important part” of the government’s plans to tackle climate change.

The consultation proposes a number of measures including increased levels of energy efficient fabrics in new homes, a minimum level of carbon reductions developers must achieve through insulation or onsite renewable energy and the exporting of low and zero carbon heat and cooling to surrounding developments.

The proposals also cap the costs expected to be spent on carbon reduction solutions and promise a review of the list of “allowable solutions” in 2012.

Sean Lockie, director of Faithful+Gould the cost consultancy arm of multinational engineering and design consultancy Atkins, said that the consultation was “encouraging”, giving the industry at large something to aim for.

Lockie said: “Zero carbon has been an issue for quite some time now, and the consultation is long overdue.

Lockie also reiterated the need for the long-awaited definition of zero carbon, but suggested that there was still much debate to be had.

He said: “There’s zero net carbon, where the grid is effectively used as a battery store with surplus going in and shortfall coming out, but where the end balance is zero. However, this is different to zero carbon in the true sense were the grid isn’t being used at all. This consultation should answer some of these questions and generate a much-needed debate.”