Low-carbon heat supply key to long-term carbon savings

A study for the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has found a home built in 2020, using cost-effective low-carbon heat, will see regulated operational carbon emissions over 60 years 90% lower than an equivalent gas-heated home.

The report, produced by Currie & Brown and AECOM, examined the potential opportunities for tightening building standards for new buildings to support the UK in meeting its legal obligations under the Climate Change Act 2008. Further findings included that neither photovoltaics nor fabric efficiency were adequate substitutes for low-carbon heat, while low-carbon heat itself will prove cost effective when built into new homes from 2021.

It also warned that the carbon penalty for delayed action will be significant. If 300,000 homes were to be built each year from the mid-2020s, the study found each year of delay when it comes to adopting lower-carbon heat technologies could see several million tonnes of avoidable carbon emissions.

With regards to next steps, the report called for a robust platform and ongoing active support programmes to deliver a transition to low-carbon heat and progressively higher levels of efficiency in buildings. The plan should be to transition to low-carbon heat between 2020 and 2025, with much tighter energy standards for new homes adopted by the mid-2020s while energy and carbon standards for new non-domestic buildings to be tightened between 2020 and 2027.