A challenging package of measures for planners and housebuilders, which will help to reduce carbon emissions and bring innovation to the building industry, was published today by Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly. The aim is to put tackling climate change at the heart of the planning system and the way we build new homes.

Currently, the energy used to heat, light and run our homes accounts for 27 per cent of all of the UK’s carbon emissions - around 40 million tonnes. To help tackle this, the Government is proposing that all new homes be zero carbon by 2016.

Energy efficient and insulated buildings, which draw their energy from zero or low carbon technologies and therefore produce no net carbon emissions from all energy use over the course of a year, will help reduce carbon emissions as well as lowering fuel bills for households.

The overall strategy, as set out in the consultation document Building a Greener Future: Towards Zero Carbon Development issued today, provides a real opportunity to deliver more sustainable homes. It was issued as part of a package of wide-ranging measures, which includes: a framework for progressively tightening building regulations up to 2016 to increase the energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint of new homes; the publication of the Code for Sustainable Homes, which aims to increase the environmental sustainability of new homes and give homeowners better information about the sustainability of their home. It sets out a star rating from one to six (with six being the most sustainable) which can be applied to all new homes.

From April 2008, after learning from the voluntary phase, we intend to propose that all new homes should be required to have a mandatory Code rating, indicating whether they have been assessed and the performance of the home against the Code; and a draft Planning Policy Statement on climate change, which expects planning strategies to be tested on their carbon ambition and, in providing for new homes, jobs and infrastructure needed by communities, shape places with lower carbon emissions and resilient to climate change.

The PPS expects new development to be located to optimise its carbon performance and make the most of existing and planned opportunities for decentralised, renewable and low-carbon, energy supplies. Taken together, the measures are an important part of meeting the Government’s climate change targets by helping to reduce carbon emissions produced by homes as well as reducing waste and harmful transport emissions.

Ruth Kelly said: “Climate change is a real and imminent threat. The recent Stern Review brought into sharp relief the need for urgent international action. With a rising population and more people living in smaller households the demands on housing are only set to increase. So it is vital that homes and other buildings are as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible. Further tough action is still needed to deliver significant energy use reductions in existing homes, but within a decade I want every new home to be zero carbon. This country is the first to set this ambition, and we look forward to our international partners matching it.

”This consultation paper sets out the need for action across all areas of housing from existing stock to new build. The Code outlines environmental standards for new homes and I encourage housebuilders to go further and faster in designing environmentally-friendly housing for the communities of the future.

“The Planning Policy Statement on which we’re consulting today sets out where and how planning can contribute most effectively to reducing CO² emissions. We want planning strategies put in place which help secure progress against the UK’s carbon targets - both by direct influence on energy use and emissions and through bringing together and encouraging action by others. Planning should give local communities real opportunities to take action on climate change, and should be doing so now”.

In response, Paul King, Director of Campaigns at WWF said: “The Code is a big step in the right direction, and more importantly it sets out the further steps required over the next few years to ensure that all new homes are built to minimise environmental impacts and in particular the contribution they make to climate change. WWF is pleased to have played a very active role in initiating and developing this Code that will make sustainable, zero carbon homes a mainstream reality in under 10 years.”

Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman of the Home Builders Federation, said: “We welcome this package of measures in setting both the goal and direction for achieving more and greener homes. Progress will be achieved most effectively through a framework in which Government sets clear objectives, industry is given the space to deliver and consumers are on board. The HBF looks forward to working closely with the Government to determine the detail so that we can deliver the right results for all stakeholders. HBF's environmental roundtable in the New Year, to be chaired jointly with Yvette Cooper MP, will mark an important start to this process.”

The Government is also launching today a joint consultation on regulations to set minimum standards for water efficiency in new homes and new commercial buildings.


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