Carbon-zero housing was once only something you’d see undertaken as a one-off project on grand designs, but now there are over 30,000 projects in the pipeline with the same ambition.
There has been talk surrounding eco-homes and offices for a long time, however, until now it was often deemed unrealistic and unachievable. Yet, the topic of climate change has circled back to the very forefront of our minds, forcing those across all industries to evaluate their carbon footprint.
The property and construction industries, in particular, are major contributors to carbon emissions. It is thought that buildings and their construction account for approximately 36% of global energy use and 39% of energy-related carbon emissions annually – a considerable sum! But, what’s the answer to reduce this output?
In today’s Blakeney Leigh blog post, we’ll be sharing insight into the past and present UK green building policies, outlining how you can ensure your building meets these standards. Together, the hope is for property to be 75% to 80% more efficient by 2025 and completely eliminate emissions by 2050.
What is carbon-zero housing?
Put simply, a zero-carbon home is one that is responsible for emitting very little to no greenhouse gas emissions.
Of course, building a home emits carbon – the materials used and the actual construction of the property have a major impact. And, in addition, so do the heating and electricity used after completion. For the last decade, it has been a recommendation by scientific experts, that buildings be made as energy efficient as possible, attempting to ‘offset’ the high carbon emissions with renewables and quality, long-lasting materials.
There is some debate as to how much more efficient a building should be, and how many renewables should be used. Improving housing alone is not enough to solve global warming!
Material choices are hugely significant, but they are not currently addressed in a governmental policy. Yet, when you consider that making a tonne of traditional concrete emits about half a tonne of carbon dioxide, it’s easy to question why there is no regulation around this!
Carbon-zero housing also faces another difficulty: the performance gap. Whilst a building on paper may appear to be able to reach certain levels of energy efficiency, depending on the quality of construction, this may not be achievable.
Voluntary uptake of zero-carbon homes has been short, which is why the government has been required to step-in and take action. But, is this enough? And, what does it actually mean for future construction?
Understanding EPC for current properties
In the UK, Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are an essential part of buying, selling and renting homes. In 2018, just 1% of all homes met Class A – the highest level achievable that sees a property move closer to this carbon-zero goal. This scale spans from A to G, A being the most efficient, and G the worst. The higher the efficiency, the lower the running costs and as a result, the lower your carbon footprint. Currently, the average in the UK is Class D – much room for improvement!
This score will provide you with invaluable insight about an existing property, highlighting its current efficiency and where modifications could be made for greater energy savings. With retrofits crucial to the development of eco-homes it’s certainly advice you shouldn’t neglect investing in. In addition, when selling your home, a low EPC can command a higher resale price.