Low Carbon Homes
Zero Carbon Emissions Target
Energy consumption within the home accounts for 14% of carbon emissions in the UK, a fact which the government and several organisations are working to change. The UK government has declared a climate emergency, supported by two thirds of the 408 principle local authorities. The UK is now required by law to achieve zero emissions by the year 2050, with many local authorities pledging to reach the target sooner. A number of strict measures have been put in place aimed at ensuring that this happens and deadlines are met.
Of course the pandemic hasn't helped the situation causing postponements and project cancellations. As a result, there are persistent calls for the government to put in place long term 'green recovery' plans.
Ensuring 'Green Design' Standards are Maintained
A report carried out on behalf of the government by Innovate UK, found that the guidelines put in place to deliver modern, low carbon homes were not meeting expectations. The report contained advice on a number of strategies to overcome this. The Building Performance Evaluation Programme was analysed as part of the report. Also 76 homes built on leading-edge developments were studied. High performance was a priority in the design of these homes, although in reality standards were not met. It was hoped that the homes would play a major role in reducing 80% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Many of the homes looked at did not meet the high calibre needed for system efficiencies and building fabric. The properties were using around 3.5 times the amount of energy that their designs intended. Teething problems abounded with innovations such as solar water heaters, heat-recovery ventilation, automatic blinds and heating controls.
Retrofitting for Low Carbon Efficiency
The concept of retrofitting existing inefficient buildings features in many recent positive reports and calls to action. Founder of Low Carbon Homes, Graham Lock said:
"We're delighted with the continued development of Low Carbon Homes, especially the successful online transition. On the back of a successful online event with Birmingham City Council in July, and four in-person events last year, we have already brought together more than 500 influential stakeholders across the UK and are now on track to more than double that over the next 6 months.
For each event, we focussed on achieving clear outcomes that enable our host partners to take a significant step forward towards achieving their local retrofit goals. We believe that a local approach is the only way to achieve retrofit at scale - to reduce the carbon impact of housing, eradicate fuel poverty and stimulate local economic recovery".
Working Together Towards Sustainable Goals
Retrofitting existing housing is an extremely sustainable option, also benefiting the wider society economically and socially. There are a number of organisations dedicated to enabling learning, sharing and showcasing best-practice within this field. A few of these organisations are : -
Low Carbon Homes - Who encourage community-led retrofit action plans to reduce fuel poverty, support zero-carbon ambitions and stimulate local low-carbon economies. https://www.lowcarbonhomes.uk/
Carbon Trust - Who are an independent, international partner of leading organisations, assisting them in contributing to and benefiting from a more sustainable future. https://www.carbontrust.com/what-we-do
Zero Carbon Hub - Which is a non profit organisation taking operational responsibility for helping to achieve the government's zero carbon homes target. https://www.zerocarbonhub.org/what-we-do
Zero Carbon Emissions Target, Ensuring 'Green Design' Standards are Maintained. Retrofitting for Low Carbon Efficiency, Working Together Towards Sustainable Goals