Shock Budget decision to exempt home appliances from zero carbon definition

The government has reversed the policy of zero carbon homes set to come in by 2016, cutting the amount of energy that will need to come from renewable sources.

In the Plan for Growth, launched alongside the Budget, the Treasury said that energy used by appliances in homes will not have to be generated from renewable sources, and the zero carbon definition will only cover heating, lighting and water.

“To ensure that it remains viable to build new houses, the government will hold housebuilders accountable only for those carbon dioxide emissions that are covered by building regulations, and will provide cost-effective means through which they can do this.”

“Building regulations cover carbon dioxide emissions from energy use through heating, fixed lighting, hot water and building services. They do not cover emissions related to energy use from cooking or from plug-in electrical appliances such as computers, as these are beyond the influence of housebuilders and will be addressed by other policies, for example the EU Emissions Trading Scheme,” it said.

Paul King, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, said that he was shocked by the policy change.  “A zero carbon home will no longer do what it says on the tin,” he said.

“The world leading commitment that new homes would not add to the carbon footprint of our housing stock from 2016 has been scrapped despite a remarkable consensus between industry and NGOs in support of it. The housebuilders were not clamouring for change,” he said.

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