What Are Allowable Solutions?
Allowable solutions are part of Government’s strategy for cost-effective delivery of mainstream zero carbon new homes from 2016. The aim of Allowable Solutions is to give developers an economical way of compensating for the CO2 emission reductions that are difficult to achieve through normal design and construction.
Why Are Allowable Solutions Needed?
A tightly integrated on-site combination of Fabric (building envelope) and Low carbon heat and power technologies together will be needed to ensure that the design of a home is capable of meeting the proposed Carbon Compliance limit (of 11 kgCO2(eq)/m2/year for a semi-detached home). Already, this means a an emissions reduction of around 17 kgCO2(eq)/m2/year compared to a similar house built to 2006 standards. The remaining emissions (11 kgCO2(eq)/m2/year for a semi-detached home) may, through choice, be addressed using Allowable Solutions.
As well as being instrumental in delivering the zero carbon standard, Allowable Solutions are also expected to play a key role in stimulating much-needed investment in locally-relevant low carbon energy infrastructure.
[Graphic from Strategies PG 5]
Proposed Types Of Allowable Solutions
A wide range of Allowable Solution project ‘families’ may be approved by Government and made available as options for investment. The following may be among the first to be trialled in earnest:
- Linking with the Green Deal – Government’s flagship initiative to address the major CO2 emissions from existing housing.
Main Benefit - could help pay for the more expensive energy efficiency measures as part of a package of more affordable measures.
- District Heating Projects – offers carbon emissions reductions above those achieved by the best individual home heating options.
Main Benefit – investment could help make heating plant upgrade/heat network extension affordable.
- Social Housing Retrofit – gives tangible social benefits, particularly for households in fuel poverty.
Main Benefit – supporting the retrofit market by ensuring that strategic carbon-saving measures are affordable on hard-to-treat properties
- Renewable Energy – reducing fossil fuel dependence.
Main Benefit – supporting community-scale/intermediate capacity projects, that generically tend to miss out on funding.
- Embodied Carbon Initiatives – major reductions in emissions possible through consideration of embodied carbon in building materials.
Main Benefit – embodied carbon initiatives could provide low-cost carbon-savings opportunities.
- Low Carbon (LED) Lighting – a simple measure which could be introduced (eg. for street lighting) without complex procedures.
Main Benefit – very rapid payback period and immediate local benefits
In February 2011 Zero Carbon Hub responded to an invitation to industry from the then Minister for Housing and Local Government, the Rt. Hon. Grant Shapps MP to propose a workable framework for Allowable Solutions. After a period of consultation, framework proposals were published and then evaluated and further considered by industry workshops.
Details of the proposals and wider evaluation can be found in the Zero Carbon Hub publications listed below.