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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