John Healey: The homes of tomorrow, today

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The Independent Online

More than a quarter of Britain's carbon emissions come from our housing – they are leaking heat and energy and therefore money. They are contributing to the climate change threat.

In future, our homes will be green-proofed, for environmental as well as economic reasons. They will have smart meters to track energy use by the minute; they will also produce their own energy, potentially selling a surplus back into the grid. And there will be heat pumps and biomass boilers to produce energy for the wider community.

Pivotal in all of this is the green light I am giving to four pioneering eco-towns that in a decade's time will be the benchmark for every development that follows, providing those who live and work there with lower utility bills, energy efficient offices and new schools, community centres and services.

Eco-towns will have charging points for electric cars. People will live in smart homes, with energy drawn from the natural elements and instant control of heat and ventilation. Nearly half of the land will be open space. We said we want to see 10 eco-towns by 2020, so I will help fund work towards six more and with confidence that developers and councils will come forward with strong proposals.

John Healey is the Housing minister