When the Government abandoned its zero carbon homes plan back in 2015 I was very disappointed that yet again the Government had chosen to ignore the significance of climate change. However, I felt it was an idea that would not completely disappear for long; climate change was certainly not going to go away on the whim of a government ! I was therefore pleased, and not entirely surprised, to see that the Committee on Climate Change has published a new report setting out recommendations for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions from UK homes.
However, unlike the original zero carbon homes plan, the report does not include any mention of solar. The recommendations focus on a change from gas grid to heat pumps, energy efficiency and the deployment of technologies to support peak management rather than generation of renewable electricity. This does surprise me as if our energy usage is increasing in my mind a truly green home should incorporate ways to generate renewable electricity as well find ways to use that energy more efficiently.
I am a big supporter of green roofs and the important role they can play for heat absorption and biodiversity but shouldn't solar have a role to play too? Surely finding ways to generate renewable electricity at home will become increasingly important as the number of electric cars on the road rises? It seems to me a missed opportunity not to install solar on new build homes but then maybe I'm biased?
At the same time, the UK housing stock is unprepared for future climate impacts, the report notes. Around 4.5 million homes suffer from overheating, while 1.8 million are located in areas of significant flood risks. The report warns that water scarcity and increased temperatures could create unsafe and detrimental living conditions for UK citizens. The CCC’s chair, Lord Deben, said: “Simply put, there is no way in which the UK can meet the legally binding climate change targets that Parliament has determined unless we take the measures outlined in this report.”