Azara Blog: Ruth Kelly wants all new homes to be "carbon neutral" by 2016

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Date published: 2006/12/13

The BBC says:

All new homes in England will have to be carbon neutral by 2016, under proposals announced by Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly.

The scheme includes tightening building and planning rules, and a star rating system that reveals a property's energy efficiency to potential home buyers.

The UK's 21 million homes are responsible for 27% of CO2 emissions.
A zero carbon house is defined as a property with "zero net emissions of carbon dioxide from all energy use in the home".

This includes energy consumed by appliances such as TVs and cookers, not just other uses that are currently part of building regulations, including heating, hot water and ventilation.

Mrs Kelly said that the decision to exempt carbon zero homes from stamp duty, announced by Gordon Brown in his Pre-Budget Report, would act as a financial incentive to developers.

Another piece of spin from New Labour. A house can be designed so that if it was occupied by a typical family, of the size for which it was designed, then at the time it was first occupied there might be "zero net emissions of carbon dioxide". But energy demand goes up in time (generally). And who is to say the family is typical? And heating is a complex matter, are they going to count passive solar, or force everyone to live in a box with no windows?

But far, far worse, this completely ignores the emissions made when the house was built in the first place. Making the house have less emissions when people live in it means that more money must be spent (and hence more emissions created) when the house is built. But if the job is done properly then the total amount of emissions in the long run is reduced. But the total is not zero. And it ignores the annual maintenance of the house, which also leads to emissions.

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