Today the Coalition Government announced that small builders, presumably including those building one-off homes, will be excused from having to meet the requirement, by 2016, to build zero carbon homes. Even that zero carbon standard had become laughable – so-called Allowable Solutions meaning that developers could effectively offset the carbon when they inevitably missed their target.
The move, predictably, has been welcomed by broad swathes of the housebuilding sector, including the FMB, who represent small builders. And that’s fine. This exemption is all part of the Government’s red tape challenge and no-one is in the mood for more regulation in housing at the moment. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
Except, the problem. Homes use up an enormous chunk of our CO2 outputs and new homes built to contemporary building regulations, while admittedly more efficient than their 1990s ancestors, are hardly green by, say, PassivHaus standards. Yet ask anyone who has lived in a PassivHaus about their comfort levels and remarkably low bills, and the unanimous verdict is that they couldn’t go on to live anywhere else.
So on the one hand, we have Government pouring money into the Green Deal and the Renewable Heat Incentive. Yet on the other hand, no one really has the nerve to force all of us to build better performing homes. It’s an unhappy arrangement, and the Government has lost its nerve.