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UK Green Building Council redefines zero-carbon housing

The UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) has put forward a new definition of zero-carbon housing which will factor in the use of off-site renewables.

A UK-GBC task group was set up in December 2007 to address concerns over the government’s current definition, which excluded off-site renewables.

According to the group’s report, The Definition of Zero Carbon, research results showed that the current definition is ‘not achievable on up to 80 per cent of new homes’.

The UK-GBC recommendations include:

• all new buildings to meet strict minimum energy efficiency standards, both in terms of the building design and household appliances where supplied by developers;

• all new buildings to seek to mitigate carbon emissions from energy use on or near the development. Where this is not possible, a minimum level of carbon mitigation must be met.

Above this threshold, either:

• off-site solutions could be allowed, without requiring private wire networks, provided that they are demonstrably additional and have been built specifically to deliver the energy needs of the development; or

• the developer can pay into a ‘community energy fund’ which will ensure equal or greater net carbon savings are delivered through new installations. The price of paying into the fund should be set at a margin above the cost of community-scale solutions so as to clearly incentivise the installation of on-site or local measures first.

UK-GBC chief executive Paul King (pictured) said: ‘This is about ensuring the same high level of carbon savings, but allowing developers more flexibility in how to get there to deliver mainstream, zero-carbon homes in the numbers required.

‘Our proposed definition recognises that off-site renewables could play a part, and also gives a big boost to community-scale technologies.’

King added: ‘This would have the added benefit of enabling much-needed carbon reductions in the existing stock, by enabling the distribution of low- or zero-carbon heat through district networks.’

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