The National Federation of Builders (NFB) has welcomed the report from the Science and Technology Committee, highlighting key areas the Government should be focusing on to meet the 2050 zero carbon target, but reports that it is frustrated at the lack of focus on successes and barriers.
New homes, for example, are incredibly energy efficient and air tight, to the point that air quality and overheating have become design challenges. The solutions, often championed using passivhaus standards, are to add more technology to a building, consequently requiring more electricity and maintenance. This, it argues, seems counterproductive.
The NFB believes it would be more effective to focus on older housing, which it describes as “the real elephant in the room”. The Government could, for example, consult on allowing councils to use section 106 funding to insulate older properties, or reform planning to ensure homes with cavityless single brick walls have permission to install external cladding.
The latter of these solutions draws parallels with onshore renewables, such as wind and solar, where visual impact often decides whether action is taken.
Many onshore renewables are rejected for this reason, under the banner of localism, which is well evidenced by so few councils including guidance and site allocations into their local plans. This must change.
If the Government really wants to meet its zero carbon commitment, it must work with the industry to understand why progress can be so hard to achieve. We would also encourage those making recommendations to the Government to do the same.
Mark Wakeford, chair of the NFB’s Major Contractors Group (MCG) said: “The construction industry has been making progress on zero carbon well before the 2050 commitment was announced. The NFB is writing a report on how we can reduce current barriers and we invite the Government to engage with us on our wealth of knowledge.”
Rico Wojtulewicz, Head of Housing and Planning Policy at the NFB, said: “Localism is a huge barrier in making sure we’re able to meet the 2050 zero carbon commitment and politician’s needs to be honest about that. In the short term, the Government must act quickly and focus all efforts on fixing old leaky housing, not new homes which many say can be heated by a lightbulb.”