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A huge opportunity for newcomers

I feel the challenges that lie ahead in getting to net zero in new build housing will not be technical; breaking down cultural, economic and industry barriers to change will be far more difficult.

The Welsh Government’s new design standards published last month are an important step to forcing through transformation in the sector. Why would anyone commissioning new homes want to consider anything outside the design recommendations for low carbon homes? Unfortunately, the industry suffers from misconceptions and a lethargy to change. The path to carbon zero must clear a few major barriers. These are some of them.

Firstly, there is a misplaced perception that bricks and mortar is more durable and long lasting, secondly, legacy builders are loathe to change from what they know, thirdly, we do not factor in the lifetime value of a home to occupants and owners, fourthly the industry skills base and supply chains are deep routed in carbon intensive processes.

I see close parallels in electric vehicles, where Tesla, a total outsider in the car industry, has challenged the internal combustion manufacturers to accelerate their transitions or face extinction. There is therefore a huge opportunity for newcomers like ourselves, who embrace zero carbon processes and MMC methods, to challenge the traditionalists in the construction of homes in the UK. This could be a long painful road to net zero for the sector.

Glen Peters is CEO of Western Solar

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