Private developers should be required by law to build green homes to ensure the government meets its target for all new homes to be zero carbon by 2016 according to the National Housing Federation, the umbrella body for the UK’s housing associations.

Speaking at the Federation’s annual conference, its chief executive David Orr said: “Private developers are not being compelled to meet minimum standards on greenhouse gas emissions. In fact they are being allowed to put their profits ahead of the survival of future generations.”

Orr claimed 92% of housing association new homes are already meeting minimum sustainable standards while only 2% of new homes built by private developers do. He said that unless the government intervened now, private sector developers will be unable to meet the 2016 deadline for zero carbon homes. “Given that only 2% of new private homes currently meet minimum sustainable standards, there are widespread fears that private developers will not be able to meet the government’s stated target for zero carbon emissions by 2016.”

From April 2008, stricter standards mean that new housing association homes will have to emit 25% less CO2 than conventional homes. However, it will not be compulsory for private developers to reduce emissions.

Without the private sector’s contribution, housing associations are the only ones using sustainable building methods, which makes the supply chain artificially expensive and housing associations have had to shoulder the cost. The National Housing Federation claims the situation means that minsters are getting housing associations to do private developers’ research on the cheap. “It is time that ministers locked private developers into the same timetable as housing associations,” said Orr.