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The Welsh Government has set out plans for all of the country’s new homes to be heated and powered by clean energy sources by 2025.
Unveiled by housing minister Julie James, the proposals follow the government's declaration of a climate emergency in 2019 – and later this year ministers say they will bring forward legislation to adopt a 95% greenhouse gas reduction target, with the ultimate aim of reaching net zero.
When implemented, the government says the steps - which follow the Scottish Government’s recent announcement to make all new homes use low carbon heating by 2024 - should see properties produce 75-80% less emissions than those built at current standards.
New and existing homes currently account for 9% of Wales’ greenhouse gas emissions – and the government says that if the country is to meet its climate targets, buildings will need to operate at close to zero emissions by 2050.
Consequently, the introduction of “tough” standards on new homes, to be implemented in stages over the next five years, is being proposed, including:
• Improving energy efficiency from 2020 which will lead to a 37% reduction in CO2 from new dwellings, saving homeowners £180 a year on energy bills (based on a semi-detached home). Additionally, all new homes will need to be future-proofed to make it easier to retrofit low carbon heating systems
• Phasing out the use of high-carbon fossil fuels and moving to cleaner ways to heat homes though the introduction of low carbon heating and energy generation, such as renewable energy sources (photovoltaic panels), heat pumps or district heat networks, which involve heating and hot water to multiple buildings from a central heat source
• Improving energy efficiency through measures that limit heat loss and reduce the demand for heat, such as triple glazing and higher standard fabrics for walls, roofs, floors, and windows
• Improving air quality by ensuring the supply and removal of air to and from a space or spaces in a building provides good air quality, which will also help ensure people's physical well-being is maximised
Housing minister Julie James said: “New and existing housing contributes about a fifth of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. If we are to meet our ambitious target of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 95% by 2050, we need to take action now to make a significant step change to the way we heat and power our homes.
“The new homes being built today will exist in 2050. Therefore, we must ensure the standards we set for these homes put us on the right path. This involves improving energy efficiency and moving to cleaner ways to heat our homes.
“The proposed consultation, for implementation over the next 5 years, makes a strong and meaningful contribution to reducing the carbon and energy impact of new homes, while recognising our ambition needs to be balanced against the desire for standards to be cost-effective, affordable and practical.
“These measures will not only help tackle climate change, but they will also help keep down household energy costs now and in the future - helping people, no matter what their background or circumstances, with the cost of living.”
The consultation on the new proposals closes on the 12 March 2020.