Zero Carbon new homes by 2016
Bremley W. B. Lyngdoh
A presentation for BioRegional
30th May 2007
UN-HABITAT this month reaffirmed its position urban planning had become
increasingly important in managing climate change because well planned
cities provide a better foundation for sustainable development than
At the Climate Negotiations in Bonn, hosted by UNFCCC, in which all UN
member states were present UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna
Tibaijuka noted that starting from 2007, some fifty percent of the global
population were living in urban areas. Urban planning has a direct impact
on climate Urban areas are major producers of greenhouse gas (GHG)
emissions and therefore have a significant impact on climate change.
UN-HABITAT deals with climate change and urban development, a key
element of which is urban planning, as part of its mandate. This is
expressed in the Habitat Agenda under the Global Plan of Action: Strategies
for Implementation. The Agenda, adopted by all member states of the UN
states Habitat's commitment to sustainable energy use and sustainable
transport, key issues in climate change mitigation as well as key elements
of urban planning.
As a result of this mandate, UN-HABITAT must work with Habitat Agenda
partners to use urban planning and development as a mitigation measure
for climate change.
The majority of newly built homes in the UK should be zero-carbon
by 2016 according to the pre-Budget report. The government aims
to achieve this target by exempting such homes from stamp duty
for a limited period of time, starting this year.
At present, more than a quarter of carbon emissions come from
households, adding greatly to global warming. But the report did not
say how this ambition will be achieved, with details not expected
until the next budget.
Critics say the cost of making a home zero-carbon will push up
property prices, outweighing any tax exemption.
The ambitious move was announced within the re-Budget report,
which also saw increased taxes on flights and a greater commitment
to energy efficiency.
Households account for more than a quarter of UK energy
Within 10 years, every new home will be a zero carbon home
and we will be the first country ever to make this commitment,
said Chancellor Gordon Brown during his pre-Budget speech.
But the proposals provide no details on how the Government will
ensure that new properties meet such standards, nor does it
give a definition of a zero-carbon house.
Kevin Griffin, tax director at Ernst & Young argues that the
stamp duty exemption will create, on average, savings pf 1-3%
of the price of the buyer.
Substantially greater incentives will have to be offered to
persuade the construction industry to make the necessary
changes on the new homes.
Zero Carbon House Key Features
Source: ESD (Energy for Sustainable Development)
The measures outlined in the consultation document, called Building a
Greener Future: Towards Zero Carbon Development, included:
tightening building regulation over the next decade to improve the
energy efficiency of new homes
publication of a Code for Sustainable Homes, which includes a green
star rating for properties
a draft Planning Policy Statement on climate change that will take into
account carbon emissions
A zero carbon house is defined as a property with "zero net emissions of
carbon dioxide from all energy use in the home".
This includes energy consumed by appliances such as TVs and cookers,
not just other uses that are currently part of building regulations,including
heating, hot water and ventilation.
UK Household Energy Consumption
The UK's 21 million homes are responsible for
27% of CO2 emissions. The government hopes
that the measures will help it meet the target of
cutting CO2 emissions by at least 60% by 2050.
The Sustainable Development Commission
(SDC)published a report warning that key
environmental targets were"undeliverable" unless
households cut the amount of resources they
The government's environmental watchdog
warned that existing properties also needed to be
made more energy efficient.
At least 75% of properties are still expected to be
in use in 2050, the year by which the government
hopes to have cut carbon emissions by 60%from Source: DTI (2004)
The SDC concluded that retrofitting current technologies, such as
better insulation and more efficient heating systems, to the existing
housing stock was the most cost-effective way to reduce households’
The Comminities Secretary Mrs. Ruth Kelly acknowledged that more
effort was needed to improve the energy efficiency of existing homes,
and hoped the rating scheme, called Energy Performance Certificates,
would encourage households to cut consumption.
Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman of Home Builders Federation said
that the home builders cannot achieve these targets alone and that
every sector of the economy would need to do its bit cut carbon
The government, house builders, utilities and local councils all work
together to deliver the changes we need. Improving the energy
efficiency of homes will help cut fuel bills and cutting carbon emissions.
New Zero Carbon Homes
The government wants to reduce
emissions from homes, which are
currently responsible for 30% of all the
From 2008, it plans to give all new
homes star ratings to reflect their energy
efficiency, with properties qualifying for
the maximum six stars if they produce
enough energy from solar panels, wind
turbines and other micro generation
technology to cover all the power they
take from the national grid.
These zero carbon homes will also be
exempt from stamp duty. Under the A zero carbon block of flats in
changes, the government says emissions East London by Steve Parsons
from residential properties could be
reduced by 7m tonnes a year by 2050.
The Way Forward
There are substantial opportunities for housing developers, appliance
manufacturers, and energy service industries to greatly improve UK
housing whilst delivering 60% savings in CO2 emissions services.
According to a recent study two-thirds of the carbon emission savings
come from demand reduction and one-third from low and zero carbon
technologies (LZCs) in homes and local communities.
So by 2050, the targets should be that:
Existing homes are refurbished to a high standard
The worst homes are replaced
All new homes are built to be ultra-low energy homes after 2020
Lighting and appliances energy consumption are reduced by 44%
54 million low and zero technologies are installed.
A demand-side energy focus
In terms of energy demand reduction in the domestic sector, there are
two main areas to focus on: (1) the building fabric and (2) residential
lights and appliances.
Improving the building fabric
The quality of the building fabric in homes
has major implications for energy demand. A
long-term strategy to encourage
refurbishment across the entire housing
stock would deliver major energy savings.
Space heating is a crucial area to address in
order to reduce energy demand.
If we are given a scenario where the average
space heating demand of the stock is halved
then the fabric improvements in existing
homes would result in a 40% reduction in
space heating whilst newly built homes can
be designed to achieve a 90% reduction in
Extensive refurbishment of existing homes is
key to the demand reduction strategy
because 86% of the 1996 housing stock will Source: ODPM (2005)
still be standing in 2050.
There are currently a variety of policy measures for existing homes in the
form of grants, advice and accreditation schemes. These include support
measures for cavity wall insulation, loft insulation, hot water tank jackets,
boiler upgrades, heating controls, and draught proofing. Although all these
measures are worth implementing to reduce energy demand, they are not
Other building fabric improvement measures need to be widely taken up:
solid wall insulation, floor insulation, improved air-tightness, heat recovery
ventilation and passive cooling (e.g. shutters and blinds to avoid energy-
If we are given a scenario where the worst homes are demolished then they
can be replaced with new high energy performing homes. In recent years
demolition rates have been very low, approximately 20,000 dwellings per
annum. At this rate the average house will have to last for 1300 years.
If we are given a scenario where a four fold increase in this low demolition
rate occurs targeting the least fit homes in the housing stock then a
targeted demolition programme could be implemented to demolish 80,000
dwellings per annum from 2016 onwards. By 2050, 3.2 million of the worst
homes in the housing stock will have been demolished, representing
approximately 14% of the 23.9 million dwellings in 1996.
The increase in population, the
decrease in household size and the
need to replace demolished dwellings
will create a substantial demand for
new houses. From 1996 to 2050 there
will be a demand for 10 million
additional new homes.
Current construction rates are
approximately160,000 dwellings per
annum, which is not fast enough to
keep up with demand.
If we are given a scenario where
construction rates are increased to an
average of 220, 000 per annum over
the next 45 years then these homes
can be ultra-low energy and designed
for small household sizes.
Design standards like those achieved
here in the BedZed development, need
to be the norm for all new housing
developments in the UK.
Source: ODPM (2005)
Improving residential lighting appliances
If we are given a scenario which allows
for an increase in appliance ownership
whilst creating a 44% saving in
electricity use through the uptake of
best available technologies then by
2050, the average household's electricity
consumption for lighting and appliances
will be 1680kWh per annum in
comparison with 3,000 kWh per annum
Major reductions can be achieved for
cold appliances and lighting through
vacuum insulated panels (VIPs) and
LEDs (light emitting diodes).
If we are given a scenario where energy
consumption to power consumer
electronics is expected to increase to
double then the manufacturers will fully Source: 1998 data: Fawcett et al.
incorporate energy efficiency into 2000; 2050 data: UKDCM
There are many technical opportunities for energy
improvements, but there also needs to be a concerted
effort by householders to both own suitably sized
appliances as well as energy conscious usage.
Manufacturers need to be encouraged to view energy-
efficiency, as a vital component of product design therefore
preventing energy profligate products coming onto the
If we are given a scenario where the implementation of
passive cooling strategies is done then this will avoid the
need to install air conditioning equipment, which could
increase electricity consumption in an unsustainable way.
Low and Zero Carbon Technology
A decisive shift to building integrated electricity and heating generation from
LZC technologies will achieve a third of the energy and carbon dioxide
savings. If we are given a scenario where almost 54 million LZCs being
installed, resulting in over 100 TWh of electricity and 260 TWh of heat
generated per annum by 2050 then the LZC technology industry will need to
grow at a rate of 30% year on year to achieve the deployment of 54 million
LZCs. Every dwelling will have an average of almost two LZCs technologies;
this includes solar thermal,photovoltaics, heat pumps, fuel cells, and/or
combined heat and power(CHP), using biomass.
CHP integrated at the building and/or the community level will provide 60%
of dwellings with heat and electricity. Another 30% of houses will be
generating electricity from photovoltaics. A distributed energy system could
potentially enable 90% of householders to meet some of their own
electricity needs, therefore displacing the need to build new centralised
plants, as existing nuclear and coal plants are retired. A complete market
transformation to LZC over the course of the next 45 years is possible
through taking advantage of the point when boiler equipment is replaced.
Boiler equipment is replaced on average every fifteen years, therefore there
are at least three replacement opportunities. LZC technologies require a
fundamental shift in capital outlays from centralised utility companies to
decentralised energy service companies (ESCos) and consumers.
South West leading in Zero Carbon
A major new study shows that South West England has the potential to
be a world leader in zero carbon housing development.
The groundbreaking report, commissioned by the South West Regional
Assembly, South West RDA and Government Office for the South West
shows that zero carbon homes are now technically viable in larger
housing developments in South West England.
With over half a million homes expected to be built in the South West of
England within the next twenty years, the study, thought to be the first
of its kind in the UK, shows that the bulk of carbon savings from new
construction in the region will come from using renewable energy in
The study also estimates the cost of a number of technological options
and suggests that biomass fuels like wood chip will be the dominant
renewable energy source for new developments built to zero carbon
Matthew Spencer, Chief Executive of Regen SW said that it is easier to
make dramatic cuts in carbon emissions from new homes than from
existing homes so it is sensible to aim high in new construction.
Go Zero is a community project based in Chew Magna that raises
awareness of the environmental and social impact of local people’s
everyday actions and provides suggestions for change towards a
zero waste society.
It offers affordable and sustainable solutions to reduce and conserve
resources and energy, to contract our carbon footprint, and to
brighten the lives of the community while recognizing our
responsibilities to encourage others throughout the world to do
The Go Zero programme is structured around four zero waste focus
groups. Their purpose is to explore the issues around each subject
and, more importantly, to stimulate action. These groups are:
People & Consumption
Transport & Energy
The Converging World
The Converging World Project
Tamil Nadu is a state in Southern India with a
population equivalent to that of the UK. Around the
district of Tirunelveli a remarkable community
support organisation has developed called SCAD,
(Social Change and Development) that seeks to
bring about positive change through encouraging
people to take responsibility for their own lives and
the lives of others.
Carbon Offset funds called Tree link raised in the
local community in Chew Manga is used to support
the planting of new timber and fruit farm plantations
in Tamil Nadu. An acre of newly planted woodland is
a fraction of the cost of new woodland planted in
the UK and would support viable and sustainable
livelihoods in Tamil Nadu as well as providing shade
for livestock, increasing biodiversity and improving
the local water table.
To end I would like to quote
Eleanor Roosevelt who said,
“The future belongs to those
who believe in the beauty of
Thank you very much!