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Labour pledges all new homes will be zero carbon by 2022


The Labour Party has vowed to make all new homes zero carbon by 2022 if it wins the forthcoming general election

Labour’s ‘tough’ new standards, which go further than the Conservatives’ Future Homes Standard, would discourage new gas boilers and embrace methods such as triple-glazed windows, super-efficient insulation and solar panels to cut carbon emissions.

The party cites Mikhail Riches’ Goldsmith Street, which was built for Labour-led Norwich Council and won the RIBA Stirling Prize last month, as an example of how energy-efficient housing can be delivered.

A report published earlier this year by not-for-profit think-tank the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit suggested the additional cost associated with making homes zero-carbon is between 1 and 2 per cent of current build costs – an amount which, it says, can be recouped in reduced energy bills ‘within years’. 

A zero-carbon homes standard had previously been set out by the last Labour government but was scrapped by the Conservatives in 2015 – a year before it would have come into force.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, said: ’We will tackle the housing and climate crises at the same time by building warm and energy-efficient homes.’

The party also announced a £60 billion programme to install energy-saving measures in almost all of the UK’s 27 million homes in a bid to cut carbon emissions 10 per cent by 2030.

But housing minister Robert Jenrick dismissed the proposal to make all new housing zero carbon within three years as ‘unrealistic’, saying that it would ‘slow down housebuilding and put up house prices’.

Jenrick added: ‘We are introducing a Future Homes Standard that will ensure new homes meet reductions in emissions by a third by 2020, and [become] world-leading by 2025.’

Simon Rawlinson, head of strategic research at consultant Arcadis, said that, while the Conservatives’ Future Homes Standard would accelerate the reduction of carbon emissions, the government ‘probably needed to go further and faster in the face of the climate emergency’.

He added: ‘The longer that it is permissible to deliver homes that are not zero carbon-ready, then the more modern homes will need to be retrofitted in the future as we get closer to 2050.’

But Rawlinson suggested the zero-carbon standard could affect the housing industry’s ability to maintain production rates – especially as it would likely coincide with the implementation of recommendations from the Hackitt Review of the Building Regulations.

‘The scale of change implied by [Labour’s] net-zero carbon homes pledge is vast – covering designers, constructors, installers and customer services people, too,’ he said.

‘Combine these changes with those that will follow from the implementation of the Hackitt Review and you can start to appreciate the scale of transformation that the housebuilding industry will need to absorb.’

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Readers' comments (8)

  • Good.

    At the very least, if the conservatives win but Labour gain ground, this policy will put pressure on the future conservative Government to be more ambitious.

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  • All the politicians, from all the parties, have rediscovered Gordy's magic money tree it seems.

    The national debt now stands at over £1.8 trillion, which is 84% of GDP; way higher than it should be. It's currently costing £49 billion a year to service that debt (7.5% of public expenditure) at a time of low interest rates bear in mind. This is more than the Education budget (£44bn) and not far behind Defence (£49bn) and Welfare (£59bn).

    Where is all this extra expenditure going to come from if not from yet more borrowing and yet more interest to pay – to the detriment of money that needs to be spent on essential public investment and services?

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  • I am just trying to make sense of the figures stated in this comment piece.... £60 billion divided by £27 million houses is £2222/each? not much to spend there? also an average house in our area is £250k which gives an increased construction cost of £2500-£5000. Seems ok on the face of it but i fail to see how this is achieved in reality with current construction costs. The comment that the payback would be 'a few years' is also questionable as by the reports own figures an apartment would save £75/year (33-66 years) and a typical terraced house would save £119/year (21-42 years)??? whilst i completely agree with the sentiment and as a practice are pushing low energy homes zero carbon is more than 2 years away?? can we have some sensible figures quoted please.

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  • This is a virtue-signal policy, based on wishful thinking, which will have the effect of diminishing new supply. Of course, it is not new homes that are the problem, but the dreadful tail of poorly performing existing stock which does most damage. Labour needs to adopt retrofit, to contemporary standards, as a core strategy.

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  • Behavioural and lifestyle changes are needed to reduce individual carbon footprints, which goes well beyond houses. This requires a re-education programme, mainly of the middle aged carbon dinosaurs, as the youth appear to be getting it courtesy of Greta. There is little point in installing triple glazing and then consuming immense food miles and going on a long haul flight.

    Population growth is the major problem, as it has doubled over the last 50 years (4b to 8b), which is not remotely sustainable, particularly as increased sections of the global population are living profligate lifestyles. Carbon rationing may save us, but there is unlikely to be the political will for that, and organised religion is still encouraging population growth (God will provide). Malthus is likely to be proved right, in the end.

    Stephen Hawking predicted that humanity had about 100 years before extinction. I think we have about 50 years or maybe only 25 before we are extinct. It will be a rather grim end, but we have shown ourselves unworthy custodians of this planet, and probably deserve our fate. A species that believes fairy tales over robust science has no place here. The planet should recover quickly from our infestation and will probably be a better place without us. This is my final warning!

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  • Daniel Lacey

    Drive less, eat wise and refurbish more.

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  • Daniel Lacey

    Oh, and stop buying sh!t you don't need.

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  • Industry Professional

    Whatever your view of religion, I have always understood that we are supposed to be good custodians since as individuals we are only here for a lifetime. Jeffrey (Engineer)

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