Zero Carbon Homes Principles And Background Construction Essay

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This document provides instructions for the preparation and formatting of your manuscript for the Sustainable Building/Project Design CW1. UK house builders are to start working towards ensuring a carbon-free future as the new UK housing minister Grant Shapps pledged to uphold the previous Labour government's target for all new homes to be zero-carbon by 2016. In this paper, authors are asked to critically evaluate what steps would be necessary in order for house builders to make such a target a tangible reality. To ensure that all papers have uniform appearance, authors should adhere to the following instructions and use the predefined styles of the template provided

Keywords: Zero carbon homes, sustainable building design, carbon reduction, zero-carbon

Introduction: Zero carbon homes principles and background

The report of Building a low-carbon economy - the UK's contribution to tackling climate change (Committee on Climate Change, 2008) indicated that climate change is a process caused by rising level of carbon dioxide (C2O) and other polluting gases in the atmosphere. These gases block the sun's heat as a result it cannot be reflected by Earth causing the global warming. Also an increase in greenhouse gases creates an imbalance between the energy input and output which is one of the evidence of climate sensitivity. It describes the global mean temperature response to the level of C2O in the atmosphere.

Scientific evidence demonstrates that at the moment climate change is the biggest challenge facing the world. Since December 2006 the UK Government has progressively introduced and developed policies to require all new homes to be zero carbon from 2016 (Communities and Local Government, 2006). The Code for Sustainable Homes has been introduced to support the change in sustainable home building practice. It has been recommended to cut the emission levels of greenhouse gases that could significantly reduce the impacts of climate change (Communities and Local Government, 2006).

Following the proposal, UK Government`s July 2007 Building a Greener Future - policy statement set out a target for all new homes to be zero carbon from 2016 as a part of the Government's wider strategy for achieving a national 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. Zero carbon homes refer to zero net carbon emissions from living in homes over the course of a year, after taking account of: emissions from heating and ventilation, expected energy use, and energy export and import from the development. These buildings will need to meet the zero carbon homes standards which will enquire a high level of energy efficiency, zero carbon dioxide emissions and reduction of remaining residual emissions (Communities and Local Government, 2007).

In July 2010 the new UK housing minister Grant Shapps pledged to support the previous Labour Government`s target for all homes to be zero-carbon by 2016. He announced to bring the Code for Sustainable Homes (Communities and Local Government, 2006) forward in the future and integrate the sustainable design principles into Building Regulations which will measure the sustainability of a home against design rating system (UK Parliament, 2010).

Government actions and incentives, cost benefits

So far there are three main mechanisms which are implemented in practice by UK Government requiring and encouraging zero carbon principles for new homes. These are Building Regulations for new homes, the Code for Sustainable Homes and a stamp duty land tax relief. However, currently the Government

Building Regulations

Zero carbon homes concept first time was introduced in the UK Government`s report of Building a greener future: towards zero carbon development consultation document (Communities and Local Government, 2006). It set out a proposed layout and timescale for Building Regulations to be zero-carbon by 2016. One year later the policy statement was issued which confirmed the Government's position to require the reduction of carbon emissions with the following timescale (Table). This concept is not just promoting the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions but also provides the economic potential to lower the total running costs of homes by gathering the energy efficiency.


Improvement over AD L1A 2006 (%)






Zero carbon

Code for Sustainable Homes

The Code for Sustainable Homes (Communities and Local Government, 2006) was introduced to indicate the overall sustainability performance of a home. It allows independent Code assessors to assess the home builders' performance and shows how the rating has been achieved. The Code has nine categories of sustainable design and credits are earned under

these categories if specified performance targets are reached A final Code certificate will be issued as an approval of works being completed.

A mark of quality is not the only benefit for home builders; flexibility also is important aspect of the Code performance which sets the different levels of sustainability based on energy efficiency against each element (energy, water, materials, etc.) but does not indicate the strategy how to achieve adequate level. This brings the cost benefit to home builders who can implement the cost-effective methods to perform or exceed the minimum design requirements.


Stamp duty land tax relief

A relief from stamp duty land tax (SDLT) for new zero carbon homes built in the UK was announced in Budget 2007 (Healey, 2007). The proposed relief was applied to the first purchase of a zero carbon home costing up to £500,000. For homes more than £500,000 there were a reduction of £15,000. The objective of this scheme was to encourage the market and raise home builders' awareness of the benefits of building zero-carbon homes. To qualify for this relief new built homes were inspected and the appropriate certificate was issued by an accredited assessor. At the time when a relief was announced only a very small number of homes qualified for it due to lack of energy efficiency (NHBC Foundation, 2009).

The SDLT relief was applied to the whole UK with the time-limited to five years. This means that is has been expired on 30 September 2012. Looking further into the future there is a renewed interest in using tax as stimulus to encourage both homebuilders and homebuyers investment in energy efficiency. The Government is looking forward to link Council Tax reductions with energy-saving improvements.

Future trends - tax reliefs and Green Deal programme

The Government is set to integrate the Council Tax system as a key factor of increasing (EIBI, 2012)

Zero carbon homes constitution, research and practice

Since the introduction in 2007, the Code for Sustainable Homes has driven improvements to energy efficiency for new housing. Following the latest version of building regulations (Part L) in 2010 the main ideology of improving the regulations leading towards the Zero Carbon homes target of 2016 has not been change (Communities and Local Government, 2010).

In July 2010 the Government made clear its commitment to ensure that from 2016 new homes can be zero carbon and also announced an agreed definition of zero carbon homes that identifies a tree-step approach to achieving zero carbon principles. These requirements are set out below in Figure.

Energy efficiency

Within this hierarchy the first step is a high level of energy efficiency in the building form through Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard (FEES) that credits in the new Codes. These measures might be the most cost-effective benefits over the lifetime of new homes generating the reductions in carbon emissions of housing.

In practice a high number of different technologies exist which delivers high level energy efficient homes. For example a minimum and overall average U-values for roofs, walls, and floors can be improved by

carbon compliance

The second component is carbon compliance achieve at least a minimum level of carbon reductions from on-site technologies and directly connected heat networks. This requirement is a part of wider plan encouraging the use of renewables.


allowable solutions

The last step is allowable solutions

choose from a range of (mainly offsite) solutions for tackling the

remaining emissions.

Government's preferred principles are set out below in Figure 1. Zero carbon homes

Government has already announced improvements of 25 per cent in 2010

and 44 per cent in 2013 (both relative to the 2006 requirements) for domestic

buildings33. There is a question of how much further beyond 44 per cent, if at

all, we should move in 2016. This and related issues are explored in section 5.

The Government also developed the Zero Carbon Hub that has a leading role for delivering homes to zero carbon standards by 2016.

In response to this concern, a realistic carbon compliance level has been proposed by the Zero Carbon Hub. Their interim report presents that from 2016 the building envelope performance for new homes should not exceed the following limits of carbon emissions:


10 kg CO2 (eq) /m2/year for detached houses (60%)

11 kg CO2 (eq) /m2/year for other houses (semi-detached, terraced etc) 56%

14 kg CO2 (eq) /m2/year for low rise apartment blocks. 44%

Steps and principles towards achieving 2016`s target / critical appraisal of best practice

Carbon reductions, feasibility and cost

Today almost half of the UK's carbon emissions come from energy used in homes and buildings (27 per cent from homes and a further 17 per cent from non-domestic buildings).