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THE QUEEN'S SPEECH - ZERO CARBON HOMES

jhai's Head of Technical, Steve Barnshaw, summarises the latest proposals affecting Zero Carbon Homes: In her speech delivered to Parliament yesterday, the Queen confirmed controversial Government plans for "the creation of an allowable solutions scheme to enable all new homes to be built to a zero carbon standard". Also contained in the infrastructure bill is an exemption for some smaller housing developments to comply to the zero carbon homes standard. Small site exemptions Reports have already suggested that sites of 50 houses or less may be exempt from the zero carbon standard, when it comes into force in 2016, though this is still to be consulted upon by Government. Allowable solutions: controversial Far more controversial, though, is the adoption of 'allowable solutions within the legislation. Allowable solutions are intended to plug the gap between 'on-site’ carbon savings and 'zero carbon’ status and are in response to concerns that it could be too costly or technically too challenging to meet the zero carbon homes standard entirely 'on-site’ through measures such as fabric insulation and renewable energy generation systems. Under proposals previously set out by the Government, instead of undertaking 100 per cent of carbon abatement 'on site’, developers could invest in 'off-site’ renewable heat or energy schemes or even build new homes to a higher energy efficiency standard than currently required under Part L Building Regulations before 2016 and 'bank’ the difference. Further options that have been considered include investing in a 'carbon offsetting’ fund or using a third party 'Allowable Solutions provider’ to deliver carbon abatement measures sufficient to meet the housebuilders’ zero carbon obligations.