Zero carbon homes summit calls for immediate action to develop local energy sources

The Home Builders Federation warned this week that sweeping reforms to the national energy market are essential if the industry is to deliver zero carbon homes within 10 years.

After a summit convened by the HBF this week, which was attended by housing minister Yvette Cooper, immediate action is being taken to draw up plans for a future local energy market.

Details, which include how to develop local renewable energy sources, who will run local plants and how they will be regulated, will be submitted in three months’ time for inclusion in the upcoming energy white paper.

John Slaughter, HBF spokesman, said a 10-year deadline for zero carbon homes would be challenging, but that housebuilders would have to lead the way. He said: “There is recognition that this is a tough task. It is important to us to show leadership, but nobody can say for sure what the final outcome will be.”

Other issues discussed at the summit were:

• Defining a zero carbon home

• Dealing with energy emitted from consumer goods such as computers and televisions, which the industry has no control over

• Establishing a database as a resource for future projects. This will contain details on prototype homes, which will be monitored during building and occupation

The round-table discussion was attended by 50 interested parties, including representatives of housebuilders, the communities department, Cabe, Ofgem, the RICS, the Construction Products Association and local government.

Cooper said: “We know it will be a challenge for all new homes to be zero carbon within 10 years but we think the industry can rise to it. We need partnership between housebuilders, utility companies and councils to deliver local, renewable energy.”

• The National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, has said the government needs to set tougher targets for green homes.

David Orr, chief executive, said: “We call upon the government to make higher environmental standards compulsory for all developers, set 2012 as a revised target for all new buildings to be carbon neutral, and reduce VAT on energy efficiency improvements to existing homes to 5%.”