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New report: cost of building zero carbon homes halved

The additional cost of making a home ‘zero carbon’ has halved in the last three years, according to new research

The Zero Carbon Hub said it now costs just £5,000 extra to make a standard semi-detached house meet zero carbon standards - compared to £10,000 in 2011.

The research organisation claims this additional outlay is set to plummet yet further, predicting it could fall below £3,500 by 2020.

Reduced costs of photovolatic panels (PV), changes to the zero carbon standards and greater efficiency in meeting air tightness requirements have been cited as reasons for the drop.

By 2016 all new homes will have to be built to the zero carbon standard, and commercial properties by 2019.

The industry has previously criticised the government’s commitment to the introduction of the target, which they have said would need to be backed by building regulations if it was to succeed.

Rob Pannell, managing director at Zero Carbon Hub, said: ‘What this report shows is that the zero carbon policy, while ambitious, is becoming more cost effective. The challenge is to continue innovating to keep costs as low as possible.’

The zero carbon policy, while ambitious, is becoming more cost effective

The industry has welcomed the outcomes of the report. Paul King, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, said: ‘The zero carbon homes story is a great illustration of the fact that given long-term clarity about the direction of policy and regulation, industry will invest, innovate and find cost-effective solutions to even the most challenging performance standards.

‘This report shows that the cost of delivering zero-carbon homes has halved since 2011 - representing a fraction of the estimated costs when the target for all new homes to be zero carbon from 2016 was launched in 2007 - and is set to fall even further over the next couple of years. Modern, low carbon new homes offer massively reduced energy bills, helping their owners and occupiers to save hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds per year, every year in the future.’

John Slaughter, director of external affairs at the Home Builders Federation, commented: ‘While predicted costs are lower than previously estimated, they remain significant. Coupled with the technical and other issues involved, plus the wider expectations of what developments can support, not least affordable housing delivery, this is still a challenging objective for the industry. Further efforts are needed to identify cost effective and robust solutions to minimise any negative impact on site viability and housing supply.’

Mike Landy, head of on-site renewables at the Renewable Energy Association, added: This report adds to the growing body of evidence showing that the costs of solar PV are falling fast, and making it more affordable to build new zero carbon homes. More importantly, this trend is expected to continue over the coming years, demonstrating the power of on-site renewables to bring down bills for homes and offices. We now look forward to the government moving quickly to set out the detailed roadmap for making all new homes zero carbon from 2016.’

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