The topline findings from the Zero-Carbon Hub Consultation make alarming reading and suggest an industry which is shortsighted in its outlook
They are at first alarming because so many participants in the consultation events (41%) had significantly underestimated the magnitude of the zero-carbon challenge.
That they are short-sighted is evidenced in the feedback on the zero-carbon definition. This suggests that the industry would ideally like a definition of zero-carbon that would deliver at best a 70% reduction in on-site carbon.
While this should come as no surprise, I believe that failure to go for zero carbon on site is an opportunity missed by the industry as a whole.
We all know that the government’s final decision on the definition of zero-carbon will need to be made based on an assessment of the market’s ability and the costs of building zero-carbon homes in volume.
But in opting for the more conservative 70% reduction, we are denying our industry’s undoubted ability to innovate and rise to the challenge of the low carbon economy.
A look around the industry today reveals that seven years ahead of the deadline, there are already well-advanced test-bed properties being built at Code Level 6.
There is also a strong body of industry knowledge being gathered on the best way to deliver these zero carbon homes at scale and on budget.
From my own personal experiences of working on a Code Level 6 home at Tarmac, we are confident that the cost of building zero-carbon homes will get ever more competitive as they are further value engineered and built on a larger scale. We expect to comfortably deliver our project against existing targets.
If government does opt for the 70% relaxed zero-carbon definition, then of course we can deliver, but we are in danger of selling ourselves short and missing a vital opportunity to cut a key source of emissions across the built environment.
It is also difficult to see how it is proposed that the remaining 30% carbon shortfall will be recouped elsewhere.
Phil Sabin, business development manager, Tarmac Building Products
Building Sustainable Design