British buyers yet to warm to green home buzz

Fri Mar 5, 2010 9:43am EST
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By Gerard Wynn

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The British building industry wants to ease green home standards as the public balk at the 20 percent or higher costs of low-carbon homes, exhibitors told a major London conference this week.

Low carbon homes are more airtight than their conventional counterparts, with better insulation, and rely on renewable sources of power generation such as roof-top solar panels or community-scale plants converting food and other waste into energy.

In more extreme examples of green homes, door-mounted letter boxes and fireplaces aren't allowed because of the draughts these allow in, said John Craggs, deputy chief executive at Gentoo, property leasers and developers, at the conference which drew 57,000 registrations, up from 40,000 last year.

"It's not that high tech, it's the precise detail. You don't just allow a guy to drill a hole (for cable television)," Craggs said of his company's planned, 28 so-called passive houses which are super-airtight.

"We're producing a guide for people on how to live in them."

The annual British, new-build green home market has reared from almost nothing to a 4.8 billion pound ($7.22 billion) industry in Britain in just five years, as the government ratchets up green construction standards to tackle climate change and fuel poverty.

That adds to a potential 390 billion pound market to upgrade existing homes, property developers estimated.

"What you see here is people planning for the future," said Neil Jefferson, chief executive of the Zero Carbon Hub, a government and private sector-funded agency meant to coordinate efforts to cut carbon emissions from housing, describing the annual "Eco-build" exhibition in London.   Continued...