MPs have accused the housebuilding industry of making “feeble excuses” to avoid making new homes zero carbon by 2016 and “dragging its feet on renewables”.

In an Environmental Audit Committee hearing this week, Dr Des Turner, Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, said that the progress made in other countries made a mockery of industry claims that renewable technology was immature.

He said: “In Japan, five years ago, I saw zero-carbon houses with technologies like photovoltaics sold off plan. In Germany, biomass and district heating are routine.”

He asked representatives from the housebuilding sector: “Why are you hiding behind assertions that these technologies are in their infancy when they are clearly not?”

Martin Horwood, Liberal Democrat MP for Cheltenham, added: “Geothermal energy has been around for a long time and there were zero-carbon houses in Wales 20 years ago.”

However, representatives from the NHBC told the committee that they were protecting consumers from the uncertainty of new technologies. Neil Jefferson, general manager of regions and technical, NHBC, said: “Homeowners are not to be treated as guinea pigs.”

John Slaughter, director of external affairs for the Home Builders Federation, said the cost of investment in energy improvement fell too heavily on home builders and that other mechanisms, such as feed-in tariffs, would ease the burden.