The Zero Carbon Hub has published its report on the zero carbon homes consultation.

The industry-led body held a series of interactive workshops earlier this year offering industry representatives the chance to have their say on the definition of zero carbon.

The report has been submitted to Communities and Local Government’s (CLG’s) consultation on the definition of zero carbon, which was launched back in December 2008.

The Zero Carbon Hub is responsible for the practical delivery of the government’s targets for all new homes to be zero carbon from 2016.

The feedback report ‘Defining zero carbon homes – have your say’ includes responses from over 500 delegates who took part in the interactive events. The report includes feedback housebuilders, developers, agencies, RSLs, housing associations, manufacturers, energy companies, consultants and academics.

The Zero Carbon Hub has said that the findings of the report could have major implications for the phased step up to mainstream delivery of zero carbon homes from 2016.

Key findings:

  • Underestimation of the zero carbon challenge - Fewer than 20% of the delegates at the events understood the magnitude of the challenge to deliver zero carbon homes. With 41% significantly underestimating the carbon reduction required, there is much to be done to communicate the scale of the challenge.
  • Cost of zero carbon homes - Nearly three-quarters of developers, with experience of low carbon homes, felt that the cost figures in the consultation document were lower than what would be incurred in 2016. However, 25% of delegates thought that the cost estimates were about right and it is essential to now understand the reasons for differences in the range of perceived future costs.
  • Complexity of ‘allowable solutions’ - Suggestions for ‘allowable solutions’ – to make low carbon buildings more efficient – were thought by some to be too complex and difficult to deliver in practice.

The report also indicates consensus on the following issues:

  • Biggest challenge is in meeting design standards on site: Achieving low air leakage rates and eliminating thermal bridges regarded as bigger challenges than high efficiency windows, highly insulated floors, walls and roofs.
  • Need for harmonisation of requirements: New definition and framework should be carried over to non-domestic buildings and to the energy section of the Code for Sustainable Homes
  • Change of legislation supported: Over 90% of delegates agreed or strongly agreed that legislation is required to ensure higher energy efficiency in homes.
  • Requirements should be communicated by next year: Delegates wanted to see advice on the energy efficiency targets for 2016 specified with the 2010 update of Part L of the Building Regulations.
  • Regulation: Building Control should be responsible for overseeing the energy efficiency and carbon compliance levels. For the enforcement of allowable solutions, a new accredited body was the preferred option.

Neil Jefferson, Chief Executive of the Zero Carbon Hub, said: “These unique events have provided informed, evidenced-based feedback to Government on its proposals and have helped us identify four key areas of focus for the Zero Carbon Hub.

A copy of the report can be downloaded at