Builders will be given flexibility in how they meet the government’s zero-carbon standard.

Insiders say the communities department will announce the decision on Monday at a meeting of the zero-carbon taskforce chaired by housing minister Margaret Beckett and Stewart Baseley, chair of the Home Builders Federation.

They say the department accepts that the current definition of zero carbon, which requires all energy to be generated on site or delivered by private wire, is unworkable.

Meanwhile, a summit next week at which communities secretary Hazel Blears and climate change secretary Ed Miliband were to launch a consultation on the efficiency of existing buildings has been cancelled.