New homes will save householders more than £200 a year in fuel bills and cut carbon emissions to zero as part of world beating standards to be introduced from 2016.
As the coalition sets out its legislative priorities for the year ahead in this week's Queen's Speech, the government confirms it will go further by strengthening energy efficiency requirements for more insulation and renewable energy sources such as solar panels.
And since making all new homes zero carbon 'on site' is not always physically feasible or cost effective for house builders, the government will also introduce a system to enable remaining carbon emissions reduction to be met through flexible, cost-effective measures ('allowable solutions').
Allowable solutions could include improving existing homes' energy efficiency by creating or expanding connections to sustainable energy sources (e.g. district heating schemes) and retro-fitting of low carbon features such as solid wall insulation.
A consultation was held last summer on options for allowable solutions - principles, price cap and delivery methods. This proposed a range of options for house builders, including taking action themselves, contracting with a third party provider to deliver allowable solutions on their behalf, or making a payment to a fund which invests in projects equivalent to their obligations for carbon abatement.
Bristol West MP and Liberal Democrat Communities and Local Government Minister, Stephen Williams said:
"With each of the three major political parties committed to increasing the number of homes built, and in some cases more than doubling it, the effect of ensuring these homes are zero carbon will be absolutely massive in environmental terms.
"By 2016 we will have gone from having some of the most energy inefficient houses in Europe to leading the world by being zero carbon, not just during construction but throughout the lifetime of these homes. This is the single biggest step towards greener homes that any government has made.
"People buying these homes from 2016 will have the peace of mind that comes from not only knowing that their bills are going to be lower but that also the construction industry in the UK is one of the cleanest and most environmentally responsible in the world."
Legislation to be announced shortly will allow for the creation of the allowable solutions scheme to enable all new homes to be built to a zero carbon standard.
This story was originally published on the Liberal Democrats website, which can be found here.