Labour pledges to make all new homes zero carbon within three years
Labour is today announcing plans to make all new homes zero carbon within three years. This could save people living in new builds £200 a year in energy bills.
A Labour government will introduce a tough new “zero carbon standard”, which will mean that the day-to-day running of the home won’t add additional carbon to the atmosphere. This is achieved through better energy efficiency standards and low carbon and renewable energy sources, and could mean all new homes are fitted with solar panels, super-efficient insulation and triple-glazed windows, and are not fitted with fossil fuel heating systems such as gas boilers as standard.
The award-winning Goldsmith Street council housing development in Labour-led Norwich, which won the 2019 Royal Institute of British Architects’ Stirling Prize, recently showed similar world-leading energy efficiency standards in practice.
An original zero carbon homes standard, set out by the last Labour government, was due to come into force in 2016 but was scrapped by the Conservatives in 2015. This means around a third of a million families are living in lower-spec new homes that would have been greener and cheaper to run, which could have cost some up to £600.
The government’s own climate watchdog, the Committee on Climate Change, has said that government policy on housing standards is failing. It said “current policies are not driving the required changes” and that “policies to support low-carbon measures have been weakened or withdrawn”.
John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, said:
“The Conservatives’ decision to cave in to property developers and slash green standards means we are building homes today that aren’t fit for the future – they’re bad for the environment and expensive to run.
“After nearly 10 years of the Conservatives outsourcing housing policy to commercial house builders, we need a Labour government that will set common-sense rules which save households money and cut emissions.”
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, 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 per cent 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.
“At this election, the choice is clear – this is our last chance to take action to protect future generations or allow the Tories to accelerate our planet’s destruction.
“The next Labour government will usher in a Green Industrial Revolution to tackle climate change and create hundreds of thousands of green jobs.”
Notes to Editors
· On Saturday, Jeremy Corbyn will be campaigning in the South West, visiting three Conservative-held marginal seats.
· In 2006, the last Labour government set out new standards which would have required all new homes to be ‘zero carbon’ by 2016. This was reaffirmed with a concrete implementation plan in 2009. In July 2015, after nine years of industry preparation, the Conservatives scrapped the policy six months before its expected implementation.
· As a result, hundreds of thousands of new homes are emitting more than they should. Just 1% of new homes received the highest ‘A’ energy rating last year: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-energy-performance-of-buildings-certificates.
· As a result of the Conservatives’ decision to scrap the zero carbon homes standard, households in new build homes are paying over £200 per year more on their energy bills —nearly three times the amount its estimated consumers will save as a result of the energy price cap: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46720908.
· In total, this could mean households paying a £1 billion more in energy bills by next year: https://ca1-eci.edcdn.com/downloads/ECIU_Zero_Carbon_Homes_-compressed.pdf?mtime=20190605095610
· Labour’s new zero carbon homes standard will be introduced within three years, which could be as early as the end of 2022 if Labour is elected to government before Christmas this year. While the standard will be neutral on different technologies, the demanding new requirements are likely to mean all new homes have solar panels, are not fitted with fossil fuel heating systems such as gas boilers, and have world-leading insulation standards, similar to the gold-standard ‘Passivhaus’ level.
· The award-winning Goldsmith Street development in Norwich was a development of 93 homes built to Passivhaus standard: http://passivhaustrust.org.uk/news/detail/?nId=840#.Xbv5_Jr7SUk
· The zero carbon standard means the day-to-day running of the home won’t add additional carbon to the atmosphere. This is achieved in two main ways. First, through better energy efficiency standards, such as insulation and high-specification windows. Second, through low and renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and heat pumps, which can mean homes generate more energy than they use. Developers would then have to offset any remaining emissions by other means, such as local clean energy projects. More information is available here: http://www.zerocarbonhub.org/
· The additional cost of building homes to a zero carbon standard has been estimated at only 1 or 2 per cent of current build costs: https://ca1-eci.edcdn.com/downloads/ECIU_Zero_Carbon_Homes_-compressed.pdf?mtime=20190605095610
· By contrast, the cost of retrofitting homes to make them energy efficient is up to five times more expensive than doing the work when they’re built: https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/The-costs-and-benefits-of-tighter-standards-for-new-buildings-Currie-Brown-and-AECOM.pdf.
· The Conservatives have only made vague promises about ‘future-proofing’ new homes and making them ‘low carbon’ – and recently produced yet another consultation with a new ‘Future Homes Standard’ set to come in by 2025 – subject to a further consultation at some point – but even then this will not achieve a zero carbon standard. The next Labour Government will act decisively to ensure the new homes we build are net zero carbon.