Friday, December 08, 2006

Gordon Brown, blueprints, green homes

One of the key elements in Gordon Brown's Pre Budget Report this week was the pledge to set "a long term framework for curbing the carbon emissions from homes - 30 per cent of all emissions." Next week Ruth Kelly as the Secretary for Communities will set out plans to "ensure that within 10 years every new home will be a zero carbon home, and we will be the first country ever to make this commitment." There were plans for stamp duty concessions on new zero carbon homes as well as suggestions of energy audits and cheap loans to improve the energy efficiency of existing homes.

These moves are welcome if a little overdue.

Useful background on the issues can be found in "Blueprints for Green Homes: A housing & energy policy for the 21st century" from two Labour party affiliated groups - the Socialist Environment & Resources Association and the Labour Housing Group.

The report touches on the interesting issue of the high carbon footprint of building houses. (Will Gordon's zero carbon homes be zero only after they are built? I fear so.) This issues poses challenges to the demolition policies which are a key element in the response to housing market collapse in parts of England - like on Merseyside where there have been more homes than demanded as a result of demographic and social changes.

On a brighter note, some housing associations are doing something. For example, Family Housing in Birmingham with its award-winning eco home which is actually an existing home. (I declare an interest - I am a Family board member.)

1 comment:

Bob Deed said...

As a footnote to my post, its worth having a look at the Sustainable Development Commission's July 2006 report "Stock Take: Delivering improvements in existing housing". It has a different emphasis from the PBR on these issues.

The Executive Summary notes:

"Homes already built account for 99% of our total housing stock. Estimates vary of the proportion these will represent in 2020 and
2050, but even the most pessimistic estimate is that 75% of the current stock will still be in use in 2050 (depending on the rate of demolition of existing homes). The SDC strongly favours programmes for improving the resource efficiency of existing homes, rather than seeing widespread new build as the more appropriate option. Building new homes is carbon intensive and carries many wider environmental impacts. If the existing stock can be made more efficient at a more reasonable cost we can realise many environmental and social gains."