The Labour Party has pledged to make all new homes zero carbon by 2022, if it wins the December general election.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will introduce “tough” new standards to ensure new homes make no positive contribution to greenhouse emissions, which will be introduced within the next three years. 

Labour said the plan could save £200 in energy bills per year for people living in new builds, as the party aims to tackle the housing and climate crises. 

Mr Corbyn said: “Homes should be safe and warm for families and not damage the environment for future generations. But our housing currently contributes a massive 14% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“We will tackle the housing and climate crises at the same time by building warm and energy-efficient homes.”

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick responded by declaring Labour’s target as “unrealistic”, adding that the Conservatives’ Future Homes Standard – which aims to reduce carbon emissions by a third by 2020 – will be world leading by 2025.

Self Builds Tackling Carbon Emissions

While it remains unclear how Labour would achieve a “zero-carbon standard”, a promise to reduce carbon emissions in undoubtedly a positive step. The self build industry has been pioneering in this area, being early adopters of renewable technology and creating more sustainable homes.

Reducing carbon emissions in homes can be achieved through a number of different approaches to homebuilding. For instance, a fabric first approach, whereby investment is made in making the fabric of a new home as energy efficient and airtight as possible, subsequently reducing the need for heating.

Another approach looks to include materials with a low carbon footprint. Earlier this year, the construction and building industries were challenged to slash their carbon emissions during all stages of a building’s life cycle, and to build more environmentally-friendly homes.

Building self build and custom build homes to be more environmentally can be most cost-effective in the long term, and the strides made to reduce carbon emissions in self build have been recognised internationally. 

In October, the CobBauge project received international acclaim for its “innovative low carbon technology” used to build cob houses, and the inspiring Cork House – made almost entirely from cork – finished runner-up for the Riba Stirling Prize. A development of council houses in Norwich called Goldsmith Street won the award, which minimised its carbon footprint by complying to the German Passivhaus standard.

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