Last edited 25 Jan 2021

Zero carbon non-domestic and allowable solution task group

In December 2006, the Labour government committed that from 2016 all new homes would be ‘zero carbon’. The Labour budget in 2008 then announced the government's intention that all new non-domestic buildings should also be zero carbon from 2019. This commitment was confirmed by the Coalition government in December 2010.

However, since then, there has been little progress towards the target for non-domestic buildings, or on the detail of the definition of 'zero carbon' for non-domestic buildings. As a consequence, in June 2015, the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) launched a zero-carbon non-domestic and allowable solution task group.

In ‘Steps to 2019’, the UK-GBC suggest that their members were keen to influence the trajectory to 2019 and highlight two opportunities:

The report proposed creating a task group ‘…to mobilise the membership … and to ensure that the Government makes the most of these upcoming opportunities, bringing forward policy that is as ambitious as possible, whilst remaining deliverable.”

The task group is jointly chaired by Julian Sutherland (Atkins) and David Mason (senior sustainability manager at Skanska).

Mason said, “The Allowable Solutions framework will be vital to delivering the zero carbon buildings policies and it presents a huge opportunity for the industry to innovate and find new ways of delivering carbon savings in the built environment.”

Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive of the UK-GBC, said, “Although the policy for non-domestic buildings remains under-developed, UK-GBC members are already pushing ahead. The overwhelming response we have had to this task group proves how many of our members are keen to start designing and delivering zero carbon new buildings, in view of the clear business benefits.”

The task group was expected to report in October/November 2015. However, on 10 July 2015, the government published ‘Fixing the foundations: creating a more prosperous nation’ a government plan for increasing Britain’s productivity. Amongst a great number of wide-ranging changes, the report states, 'The government does not intend to proceed with the zero carbon Allowable Solutions carbon offsetting scheme, or the proposed 2016 increase in on-site energy efficiency standards, but will keep energy efficiency standards under review, recognising that existing measures to increase energy efficiency of new buildings should be allowed time to become established.'

This announcement was made with no consultation and came as a surprise to much of the industry. Julie Hirigoyen said "It is short-sighted, unnecessary, retrograde and damaging to the house building industry, which has invested heavily in delivering energy-efficient homes".

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