The government’s plans for all new homes to be zero carbon by 2016 moved a step forward this week with the formation of a steering group to lead the initiative.

A select group of industry figures are to take on the responsibility of co-ordinating and implementing the plans at a strategic level.

It is understood that the taskforce will include Yvette Cooper, the housing minister, Stuart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, Paul King, director of campaigns at the WWF, John Callcutt, who is heading the government’s housing sustainability taskforce, Michael Ankers, chief executive of the Construction Projects Association, and a local government official.

A member of the utilities industry may also join the group.

The decision to set up the taskforce came after a successful summit to discuss the Code for Sustainable Homes last week, which was attended by 50 interested parties, including representatives of the communities department, Cabe, energy regulator Ofgem, the RICS and local government.

At the meeting, Cooper called for a revolution in the way homes were built. She said housebuilders could not deliver the necessary cuts in carbon emissions on their own and must form partnerships with utilities companies and local councils.

If we have to change the way we build, we need a collective

Paul Pedley, Redrow Homes

Stephen Stone, chief executive of Crest Nicholson, backed Cooper’s call for greater co-operation across the industry, given the scale of effort involved in meeting the zero carbon challenge. He said: “We need a huge cross-sector approach rather than 15 companies doing R&D. This will involve a whole sharing of information.”

Paul Pedley, the executive deputy chairman of Redrow Homes, said individual companies would be able to generate their own solutions to meet the requirements laid out in the lower levels of the code, but not for the more exacting higher levels. “Redrow acting alone will not get to code level six. If we have to change the way we build, we need a collective approach,” he said.

In another follow-up from the summit, the Construction Products Association is drawing up a draft 120-month timetable for meeting the government’s target for zero carbon by 2016. This will be presented at a meeting with housebuilders next month.

Michael Ankers identified relationships between housebuilders, energy suppliers and manufacturers as the most potentially fruitful sources of co-operation.
John Slaughter, external affairs director of the Home Builders Federation, said that there was scope for developers to co-operate on technical issues, such as those being examined by BRE.