Rather than a top-down prescriptive approach, the plans outlined by Mr Shapps aim to give councils and developers much more flexibility to decide how to meet the ambitious eco-standards.
As part of this, the Minister signalled his intention to establish a community energy fund, as originally proposed by the UK Green Building Council. This would allow developers to make payments to the local authority to support local energy schemes, such as a local district heating scheme, or a community wind farm for the area. This will offer much simpler way for developers to meet their obligations than having to undertaken expensive on site measures, or set up their own offsite schemes.
This comes as part of the Coalition Government’s ambition for a carbon and eco-friendly economy, and to be the greenest government ever.
Grant Shapps also confirmed that the minimum standards for energy efficiency through measures such as improved wall and loft insulation and high specification windows will be implemented in future revisions of building regulations and will be based on those set out in a recent consultation on the Code for Sustainable Homes.
The Minister also confirmed the Government’s commitment to a realistic benchmark for carbon emissions in building regulations but said that as this will need to take into account the costs of a tough standard, the Zero Carbon Hub will test what would be an appropriate level for this benchmark.
Despite the tough economic climate and ongoing efforts to tackle the record budget deficit, Mr Shapps confirmed that the Zero Carbon Hub will receive £600,000 for their work this year.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:
“This is about meeting tough environmental standards, but not dictating how every home should be built. Councils and developers together are in the best position to decide how best to meet these standards, so we’re giving them the flexibility and a range of options to do this.
“We are committed to all new homes being zero-carbon from 2021 and have the right mix of measures in place – including regulations but also new innovations such as a community energy fund.
“First and foremost a zero-carbon home must use as little energy as possible, which is why I will shortly announce a minimum standard for key energy efficiency measures like loft and cavity wall insulation.
“And to ensure the benchmark for carbon emission reductions is both ambitious and achievable, I look forward to seeing the results of tests the Zero Carbon Hub will conduct over the next few months.”