Environmental consultant Max Fordham has hit back after reports in the press that it criticised the performance of the first ever commercial zero-carbon development.

Bill Watts, senior partner at Max Fordham, said the headquarters for windfarm company Renewable Energy Systems, was particularly ambitious for an office development and, despite teething problems, the scheme was an overall success.

Max Fordham will submit a report on the development to the DTI at the end of this month after monitored the performance of its innovative renewable energy systems.

Watts said: "It has shown that these things are possible and work. By being open about the results it has let other people know what the difficulties are and how to avoid them.

"It has been an inspiration to show that a zero-carbon building is possible. The information that it is providing will help ensure that the industry can use these technologies effectively in years to come."

Watts said one of the biggest learning curves was growing the miscanthus bioenergy crop on the surrounding land, which was "perhaps the worst agricultural land in Hertfordshire".

The system that worked the best was the 29 m diameter wind turbine that produced enough electricity to meet the building's needs in 2004.

Watts said the ideas used in the project would probably be taken up in other schemes, especially one-off wind turbines on industrial estates or commercial developments.

Ian Mays, managing director of RES, said that the project, after getting through some initial problems in the commissioning stage, demonstrated that low carbon design and integrated renewables were the way forward.