Zero carbon homes policy lives on – what will Mayoral candidates do for housing standards

April 27, 2016

low carbon homes

It is only a week before Londoners head to the polls to choose a successor to the incumbent Boris Johnson, stepping down from an office which enjoys considerable powers over housing, planning and energy. Each candidate has a different idea on how to resolve the shortage – but all have promised to build 200,000 homes by 2020 or 50,000 every year.

Importantly, none are expected to retract the current Mayor’s pledge to build homes to zero carbon.  Here’s how the initiative is coming into force.  On 11th April, the Greater London Authority issued new Housing Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) and Energy Planning Guidance setting out the standards for new residential developments in the capital.

All residential developments of strategic importance, received by the Mayor on or after 1st October 2016 will be zero carbon defined as “achieving at least a 35% reduction in regulated carbon dioxide emissions (beyond Part L 2013) on-site. The remaining regulated carbon dioxide emissions, to 100 per cent, are to be off-set through a cash in lieu contribution to the relevant borough to be ring fenced to secure delivery of carbon dioxide savings elsewhere

This is a big deal. The zero carbon homes policy was scrapped at a national level by George Osborne. With this initiative London is leading the country on championing standards for new build homes.  But what will the incoming Mayor do.  We look at the policies proposed by the Mayoral election front runners below. What is your view?

For the Green Party, Sian Berry is running on a platform to:

  • Encourage fairer house prices by creating a not-for profit housing company.
  • Carry out a comprehensive independent analysis of the social, environmental (including embodied carbon) and economic benefits of all possible options on any regeneration and refurbishment of council or housing association estates.
  • Establish a not-for-profit energy company providing an alternative to the ‘big 6’ energy suppliers, reducing energy costs and fuel poverty
  • Encourage the energy efficiency of new build.

Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative candidate, has pledged to ‘future proof’ London homes by:

  • Working with the government to devolve London’s share of the successor to the Energy Company Obligation, due to start in 2018.
  • Use the estimated £80 million that this will raise to trial ‘Pay Back as you Save’ schemes (using a similar principle to the now defunct Green Deal).
  • Retrofit incentives to include low interests loans, stamp duty and council tax rebates.
  • Application of the new Dutch model Energiesprong for the retrofit of existing tower blocks at no upfront cost to housing associations and local authorities
  • Produce ultra low energy efficient homes which are 75-100% off grid thanks to in-built rooftop solar electric

Sadiq Khan, Labour candidate, vows that 50% of all new build homes will be genuinely affordable.  He also promises to make London a ‘low carbon beacon’ by:

  • Establishing ‘Energy for Londoners’, a not-for-profit company will take a lead on clean and green energy across the city
  • Accelerating the roll out smart meters
  • Making the most of the city’s roofs, public buildings and land owned by Transport for London for energy generation by producing a solar energy strategy.
  • Ensure all new developments meet low carbon, energy efficiency and sustainability standards, although the exact standard is unspecified

Caroline Pidgeon, the Lib Dem mayoral candidate, refers to one energy efficiency policy in new or existing homes in her manifesto: 

  • Roll out solar across 200,000 London rooftops by 2025

I think that all the ideas presented above have the potential to generate great positive change. Maybe a collaborative partnership between the four candidates would be the best solution to administer London. The ability to share power and influence is in itself a qualifying value in such a high-profile job. What do you think? Do the candidates’ manifesto commitments make sense? Are they achievable?

Arianna Sdei