The current definition of “zero carbon” is not achievable on up to 80% of new homes, according to a new report published today by the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC).

The report, produced by UKGBC’s zero carbon task group, contains new modelling which says that the definition of zero carbon “must change” if the government wants to maintain its housing delivery target of 240,000 units a year without watering down carbon savings.

UKGBC highlights the role off-site and community scale renewable energy could play – something which is currently excluded from the current definition of zero carbon.

UKGBC chief executive Paul King said the council’s recommendations were “not about dumbing down or abandoning the concept of zero carbon”, but giving developers more flexibility to deliver the new zero carbon homes required.

“The solutions we are pointing to are designed to ensure energy demand reduction always comes first and on- or near-site renewables should be the focus for meeting energy needs,” said Mr King.

“Our proposed definition recognises off-site renewables could play a part, and also gives a big boost to community-scale technologies.

“This would have the added benefit of enabling much-needed carbon reductions in the existing stock, by enabling the distribution of low or zero carbon heat through district networks.”

UKGBC recommendations will feed into the government’s consultation on the definition of zero carbon this summer.