Limiting carbon reduction target on new homes to 8% rather than 25% will lower costs for housebuilders, ministers say

Ministers have moved to relax the previous government’s requirement for big carbon reductions on new homes in a bid to ease the cost of the regulations on housebuilders.

The Department for Communities and Local Government’s consultation on Building Regulations, published yesterday, proposed a carbon reduction of just 8% on 2010 levels for new homes and 20% for non-domestic buildings.

This is well below the reduction of 25% which the Labour government was committed to across both building types, which had wide industry support.

The consultation said the move to limit CO2 reduction on new homes to just 8% was made “on the basis that this minimises the cost impact on housebuilders whilst still providing a meaningful step towards zero carbon”.

The consultation said the government estimated this standard would add a cost of £795 to each new home.

It added that the government had considered imposing a target of a 26% improvement on 2010 standards but said this would introduce “a higher cost for housebuilders at a time when the government has a commitment to reduce the burden on the housebuilding industry”.

On non-domestic buildings, the consultation said a 20% improvement on 2010 standards would give “the highest long-term benefits to business through significant energy savings for building occupants”.

Despite relaxing the standards, the government did pledge to keep the Labour government’s target to make all new homes zero carbon from 2016.

The new standards will be achieved by a combination of enforcing the minimum fabric efficiency standard developed by the Zero Carbon Hub and more energy efficient services, the consultation said.

John Tebbit, Construction Products Associations vice-president, said the proposed changes to Part L were the first stage in a two stage process, which would see new homes have to be zero carbon under Part L from 2016.

He said the proposals published by the government were the “most cost effective way to get to 2016”.

He said it was right to ensure the fabric of new buildings was efficient as a priority before requiring much better services from 2016.

“I think it’s quite brave of the government to do it because it doesn’t give you a good headline figure,” he added.

Consultant Neil Cutland, former director of the Building Research Establishment’s Low Carbon Housing Futures Centre, said the proposals would mean a bigger headline carbon reduction was required from 2016 but this would be achieved easily with energy efficient services.

“The big challenge is the fabric,” he said.