Government Focuses On Green Homes

Property investors thinking of pouring their cash into the housing market were made aware of the government's growing drive to supply environmentally friendly homes.

Over the past six months, experts within the housing industry have been debating the merits of the controversial energy performance certificate, due to be included in Home Information Packs (Hips) which will be implemented from June 1 st this year.

Some believe that such a rating would create a two tier system of homes, whereby many buyers would refuse to even look at a perfectly decent house simply because it performed badly on the certificate.

The government today took a further step towards imposing energy-efficiency on the housing trade.

Communities minister Ruth Kelly unveiled details of the Carbon Challenge, a system whereby firms are invited to build developments at certain locations according to zero carbon or near zero carbon requirements.

As well as being environmentally friendly, the homes will also be required to be affordable to the demographic most in need of accommodation.

Ms Kelly said: "We must cut carbon emissions to tackle climate change - and housing has a major role to play. Building the new homes we need across the country is a prime opportunity to harness new technology and drive up environmental standards.

"We need to design communities, not just houses. While there are lots of carbon saving measures which can be used in individual homes, designing a whole community gives developers scope to make use of schemes like district heating and combined heat and power plants.

Trevor Beattie, the director of English Partnerships, who is responsible for delivering the Challenge, said: "English Partnerships will work with the construction industry to meet the challenge of climate change. Together we can make a major contribution.

"We will work with the house building industry and local authorities to shape the future of development in this country. Ministers have issued the Challenge and there will be many ready to take it up."

With such an emphasis on green homes, property investors may become concerned that in the future the eco-friendly initiative may cost them extra to upgrade their homes.

Indeed Sarah Webb, Chartered Institute of Housing's deputy chief executive, insisted that the green focus should extend to existing homes.

She said: "We are pleased to see that the environmental sustainability of new homes is so high on the political agenda, but we must not forget the problem of existing housing, two thirds of which will still be in use in 2050."

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