The government risks missing its legal target for all new homes to be zero carbon by 2016, the UK body for housing associations has warned.
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The National Housing Federation said private developers must sign up to legally-binding standards to stand a chance of hitting the 100% target.
Currently only 2% of privately-built new homes meet minimum criteria, the NHF has claimed.
That is in comparison with 92% of new homes built by housing associations.
In July, the government set out targets to make all homes zero carbon by 2016, with no net carbon emissions from all energy uses in the home.
Around a quarter of emissions are caused by the way people heat, light and run their homes.
The NHF said that from April 2008, housing associations must ensure they emit 25% less carbon than conventional homes, and by 2016, they must have zero carbon emissions.
But, according to the federation, private developers are not being compelled to make the same cuts.
The NHF's chief executive, David Orr said: "Currently, private developers are not being compelled to meet minimum standards on greenhouse gas emissions at all.
"In fact, they are being allowed to put their profits ahead of the survival of future generations.
"It's time that ministers legally locked private developers into the same timetable as housing associations.
"Unless the government compels the private sector to meet the same standards, and timetable, private companies will simply try to wriggle out of their environmental duties, saying it costs too much."
A spokeswoman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said it was "important" that the public sector established good practice.
"The fact is that all homes will be required to be zero carbon by 2016 and we are introducing legally-binding regulations on the private sector," she said.
"We also think it is important that the public sector leads the way, that is why we have said that the homes built with public money should cut carbon emissions even faster to demonstrate what can be done.
"There is a strong body of opinion in the private sector that they need to do more."