Our climate is already changing. Our planet is already warming up. Homes account
for over a quarter of our carbon emissions - that is why it is so important
that new homes meet much higher standards in future. We need a revolution in
the way we build new homes - both to cut carbon emissions and to respond to
our changing climate.
We need to learn from countries like Denmark and Sweden, where higher standards
of insulation and local energy generation are common place. But as our climate
is changing, we will have to learn lessons from the Mediterranean as well as
Scandinavia. It will be pointless to have homes that are well insulated in winter
but need air conditioning each summer. Last summer there were reports of big
increases in people buying portable fans and air conditioning units, just to
keep cool. The homes of the future need to be designed for hot summers as well
as cold winters. We should be building green houses not greenhouses for future
We have set a ten year timetable for higher standards, so that all new homes
must be zero carbon within a decade. These are ambitious targets, and we know
of no other country that has yet done the same. It will require a revolution
in the way we build homes. We cannot do it simply with incremental changes to
traditional methods of building homes.
I strongly welcome the commitment of the Home Builders Federation to working
with us to deliver the cuts in carbon emissions we need. But house builders
cannot do this alone. Better standards of insulation won’t be enough on
their own. We need to change the way we heat and power our homes. We need new
partnerships between house builders, utility companies and local councils to
deliver local energy and renewable energy to our homes as well. Whether it be
turf or solar panels on the roof, wind turbines in the garden, heat pumps below
the cellar, we need to develop the environmental technologies of the future.
This is an opportunity for us to lead the way across the world. Our aim should
be to develop the technologies we can apply to existing homes as well.
We have ten years to plan, invest and innovate to deliver zero carbon homes.
It is vital that we invest now to bring down the costs of new technologies and
deliver low cost, low carbon homes. The homes of the future must be affordable
as well as sustainable.
The level of new building we need is an opportunity to raise standards, to
develop and implement new technologies and reap the benefits of economies of
scale. For example industry analysts have predicted that the cost of Micro CHP
units could fall from around £2,000 to £400 if millions of them
were produced and installed. Many Housing Associations are already leading the
way by building to higher standards. Now we need new partnerships to go further
and deliver affordable and sustainable homes of the future that are even more
sustainable for the future too.
There is now a strong consensus among the major housebuilders that we can and
must do far more to cut carbon emissions from new homes. Everyone recognises
that this is ambitious, but today’s event demonstrates there is growing
support for a revolution in the way we design and build our homes.