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Tory plans re zero carbon exemptions 'shortsighted'
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Plans by the Conservative party to exempt 200,000 Starter Homes designed for young first-time buyers from the zero carbon standard have been deemed “incredibly short-sighted” by the UK Green Building Council.

In a clear attempt at vote catching, Prime Minister David Cameron announced recently that the homes will be available at a 20 per cent discount because they will be exempt from a range of obligations, including the zero carbon standard.

The Conservative Party first aired its plan to exempt 100,000 Starter Homes from the standard in September last year. But in a Government consultation published in December, it appeared to have made a U-turn by making no mention of the proposed exemption.

John Alker, Director of Policy and Communications and Acting CEO at the UK Green Building Council, said: “The Conservative plan to exempt Starter Homes from the zero carbon standard is incredibly short-sighted. For a minimal additional up front cost, zero carbon homes provide lower energy bills over their lifetime, and encourage the use of renewable energy locally.

“There would be a sad irony if these Starter Homes locked 200,000 first time buyers into a legacy of higher energy bills and poorer quality housing for years to come.”

Backing up the comments above, the UKGBC supplied the following figures relating to energy bill savings for households and costs to builders.

An infographic from the Zero Carbon Hub can be accessed at

The diagram shows the energy savings from a zero carbon home (compared to an average Victorian home). For a 3 bed semi the annual energy bill savings are £1,220.

Regarding the cost to housebuilders of producing green homes, a report from the Zero Carbon Hub and Sweett Group can be seen at This research found that the cost of zero carbon building homes has fallen dramatically over the last few years – essentially halved since 2011. It said the typical additional cost of building a semi-detached house to the zero carbon standard could be less than £5,000, and by 2020 could be less than £3,500.

AIMC4, a four-year Technology Strategy Board funded-project involving housebuilders Barratt, Crest Nicholson and Stewart Milne Group aimed to design and build homes to Code for Sustainable Homes level 4 (the ‘on-site’ zero carbon standard Government has committed to) showed that the additional cost was £3,000 to £4,500 depending on house type and design

Applying these figures, the payback time in terms of energy saving for the extra build cost could be as little as 3 years.

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