Sunday, 20 April 2014

Zero Carbon Hub proposes way for builders to pay in lieu of cutting emissions

Carbon payments could raise £1.1 bn

Local authorities could set up multi-million pound funds to pay for carbon reduction measures using contributions from developing associations and house builders, under proposals unveiled this week.

The Zero Carbon Hub, a group of house builders and government representatives which co-ordinates the delivery of zero carbon homes, outlined the idea in a report published on Tuesday.

The funds would be paid by developers to offset any carbon emissions they could not eliminate through the building process when building zero carbon homes. All new homes must be zero carbon by 2016.

The report, based on research by Cooperative Financial Services and accountancy firm Grant Thornton, estimated that £200 million of developer contributions could be borrowed against to raise a total of £1.1 billion.

Under the proposals, this would work by setting a price for carbon emissions. Developers would then make a payment either to a local authority-run community energy fund or pay a third party provider to arrange a project called an allowable solution from a list made by the council.

Allowable solutions include investment in energy from waste plants, charging facilities for electric vehicles and low-carbon street lighting.

House builders must meet minimum standards to reduce carbon emissions from their developments and then use allowable solutions, provided either in the development or offsite, to meet the rest of the zero carbon requirements.

Matthew Bush, sustainability manager at Metropolitan Housing Partnership, described the proposals as ‘a pragmatic solution to building zero carbon homes’. However, he expressed concerns that the practice could lead to confusion and ‘double counting of emission cuts’.

A verification scheme, run by an independent board, will check the projects are delivered, give credits ahead of completion and approve the release of funds.

The cash would pay for projects generating 2,940 GWh of power a year, 37 per cent of the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s target for energy generation from small renewables.

Housing minister Grant Shapps said he would read the report with ‘great interest’.

Gary Porter, chair of the housing and environment board at the Local Government Association, said: ‘It puts local communities first, which would ensure that development delivered through allowable solutions would not only provide environmental benefits but would also fit with the strategic planning aims of the local area.’


Readers' comments (1)

  • The best thing local authorities can do for the environment is to clean up their waste collection and treatment arrangements - reduce cost and cut down carbon footprint. Silly and complex recycling collections including that of garden and food wastes add carbon emissions of transport and processing energy instead of reduction.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

sign in register

Newsletter Sign-up

More Newsletters



  • Sustainable Housing Awards 2013


    From the latest hybrid technology to tenant-run garden projects, this year’s Sustainable Housing Award winners demonstrate the very best in environmentally friendly approaches to building and maintaining homes and communities. Kate Youde reports

  • Countdown to zero


    By 2016, the government wants all new homes to be zero carbon. So what impact will plans to scrap the code for sustainable homes in favour of revamping part L of the Building Regulations have on meeting this goal? Keith Cooper investigates

  • Positive thinking

    30 October 2013

    Matthew Spencer’s career as an environmental campaigner has taken him to Central America’s cloud forests and back. Now, as director of think tank Green Alliance, it’s his job to put pressure on Westminster to make sustainable decisions. He tells Jess McCabe why, despite a tough economic climate, he is optimistic

  • A SHIFT in attitude


    Social housing is becoming greener according to the latest assessment, but with cash tight will this trend continue? Andrew Eagles and Richard Lupo report

  • Council proposes green energy company to cut fuel poverty

    20 August 2013

    A Scottish council is proposing to create a green energy company to tackle fuel poverty and cut carbon emissions.


  • Strength in numbers


    A housing co-operative in Leeds has created a one-of-a-kind affordable eco-community for residents. Jess McCabe reports

  • The rise of the bungalow


    Britain needs more bungalows, according to a new report. Here, Richard Baines examines if single-storey homes can ever be a sustainable - rather than simply popular - housing solution

  • Getting connected


    Student@Home has discovered the mutual benefits of one-to-one IT training for social tenants. Kate Youde investigates

  • The prefab way


    Hammersmith & Fulham Council is erecting pre-fabricated homes and Brighton has turned to shipping containers, Lydia Stockdale reports

  • Keep it in the family


    A housing association in Birmingham is tackling rising unemployment by pledging to fill 10 per cent of its job vacancies with its own tenants. Austin Macauley reports