Low-cost zero-carbon house defies chancellor's social housing policy U-turn

Budget building is Budget blow for Osborne

In the Budget, Chancellor George Osborne scrapped a requirement for social housing to become carbon neutral by 2016.

However, a team of designers from Cardiff University has built a house in Bridgend that generates more power than it consumes over the course of a year – and the occupants sell the surplus back to the grid.

Yes, this has been done before, but the big difference here is that the cost of building the house falls within the government guidelines for social housing provision.

Current government policy is to allow “more time”, for the technology to become established.

Designers built the house in just 16 weeks and it cost £1,000 per square metre. The range for social housing is £800 - £1,000 per square metre.

The house will still require extra energy during the low-energy winter months, but this was found to be more than compensated for by the energy the house generated during the warmer and lighter months of summer (even if it is an unreliable Welsh coast summer).

The house has insulating render on the outside, south-facing photovoltaic roof tiles (instead of bolt-on solar panels), battery storage, and LED lighting inside.

Professor Phil Jones, who led the project in Bridgend, said: “Using the latest technology, innovation and design, it is indeed possible to build a zero carbon house at low costs, creating long-term benefits for both the economy and the environment.

“The cost of our carbon-positive house was similar to that of the social housing benchmark, making it an affordable option for house builders. We hope that this can be replicated in other areas.”

According to the BBC, a Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “The government is not proceeding with the zero carbon buildings policy and will instead give developers the time they need to build energy efficient homes required by recent changes brought in during the last parliament to building regulations to improve efficiency.”

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