Zero-carbon homes ‘should be standard in five years’

“Zero-carbon homes should be built as standard in England within the next five years, as we learn again how our built and natural environments can work in harmony,” Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick (pictured) has said, as he welcomed the findings of a government-appointed commission into the future of housing.

The Secretary of State's comments came in response to the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission’s final report. The Commission’s role has been to focus upon health, well-being and sustainable growth. It has made a series of recommendations for realising the government's ambition to build 1m new homes by the end of the current Parliament.

The Commission is calling called for a new ‘fast track for beauty rule’ for local authorities, to ensure speedier planning approval for developers that create proposals for well-designed, greener more energy-efficient buildings.

They also suggested levying zero- or low-VAT on work to improve the energy performance of existing buildings, and said communities should have greater say over local developments, with planning authorities encouraged to prioritise projects which are future-proofed and enhance adaptability for potential future uses.

“The greenest building is one that is already built,” the report states, joining the chorus of campaigners urging the government to come forward with more ambitious plans to support green upgrades to the current building stock.

Jenrick welcomed the Commission’s findings, to which the government plans to issue a full response “ in due course”, and stressed that “beautiful, high-quality homes must become the norm, not the exception”.

He also signalled his interest in the Commission's recommendations for implementing a 'fast track for beauty' standard, and building net zero homes.

“I want to see zero carbon homes being built as standard within five years as we learn again how our built and natural environments can work in harmony,” he said.

The built environment currently accounts for around 40 per cent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. The government has promised to introduce a Future Homes Standard that would ensure all new homes are built without fossil fuel heating from 2025. Initial improvements to parts L and F of the building regulations will be issued this December. However, Ministers are facing fierce criticism for failing to mobilise increased investment into energy efficiency upgrade programmes for existing homes.

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