Steps for zero carbon homes

Clay Technology magazine
,
17 Apr 2009
The Hanson EcoHouse, on display at the Building Research Establishment in Watford, UK. It offers a 44% improvement in energy sustainability over 2006 building standards

Plans for all new UK homes to be zero carbon from 2016 must be reviewed in light of the current economic situation, according to the UK Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

The organisation was responding to the Government’s consultation on the ‘Definition of Zero Carbon Homes and Non-Domestic Buildings’. The FMB argues that the definition of zero carbon needs to be ‘realistic and not idealistic’ if greener homes are to be achieved.

‘The Government is going full steam ahead, with no acknowledgement of the worst crisis to face house building in a generation,’ says FMB Director of External Affairs Brian Berry. ‘The bottom line is that the same would-be home owners who are expected to find the money to pay for social housing, and other hidden expenses that the Government piles onto the price of a house, cannot afford the current burden, let alone new ones.’

The standard for zero carbon homes would add ‘tens of thousands’ of pounds to the building cost, he notes. It requires high levels of energy efficiency in the fabric of the home, a minimum level of carbon reduction to be achieved onsite or through directly connected heat, and a set list of allowable offsite solutions for dealing with the remaining emissions.

In order to pay for these requirements, homeowners should not be required to contribute to other planned expenses, such as the Community Energy Fund and Infrastructure Levy, argues Berry.

In a separate submission to the Government consultation, the UK Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has recommended that the definition of zero carbon be applied consistently across both domestic and non-domestic buildings to create a single national reference point.

It also suggests that the embodied energy of buildings be incorporated into the binding targets, and that future maintenance and lifetime carbon costs be considered.

A Government 2016 Taskforce is developing a timeline for implementing the zero carbon target over the next ten years.

Further information: Federation of Master Builders, and Chartered Institute of Building

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Meanwhile, the UK Green Building Council has called on the Government to create a Code for Sustainable Buildings to cover all non-domestic buildings, both new and existing. Such a Code could aid builders in the development of zero carbon homes, and cover carbon, energy, waste and water performance. The Council says it would be an overarching framework, making it easier for industry to understand the regulations and how to implement them throughout
all stages of a building’s lifecycle.

Further Information: UK Green Building Council

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