Living in a home that was not only affordable to rent or buy, stayed warm in winter and cool in summer, doesn’t contribute towards global warming through its cooling or heating and has no energy bills. This might seem like a fantasy to many, but is achievable with zero carbon buildings.
When we consider that way that new homes are being built – and the retrofitting of existing homes often falling short of stated design standards – there is little doubt that action is drastically needed to change materials used, the construction process, and design specifications to greatly improve the quality of buildings and the impact they have on the environment. We have written previously on how the construction of ‘wellness-minded’ buildings and eco-friendly homes is on the rise and the benefits they can offer, however more attention needs to be raised to how these homes can drastically improve the environment. As The UK Committee on Climate Change has found that “energy use in homes increased between 2016 and 2017,” and Oxford University research discovered that “the built environment is responsible for 47% of UK carbon emissions,” we need to ensure that our next generation of buildings works towards reversing the negative effects of climate change.
So what are some of the things we can do to create successful zero carbon buildings?
Invest in renewable energy systems.
There are a wide range on technologies on the market, as well as more emerging technology each year, however it is important to prioritise those that not only deliver the carbon properties and efficiency required, but are simple to operate and can be maintained by local companies.
Taking a ‘fabric first’ approach.
By using a ‘fabric first’ approach, this helps ensure that the energy requirement for the building is known and thus what equipment is needed to deliver thermal comfort. Of most importance is airtightness, and following this, the insulation – it is much easier to achieve airtightness when there are fewer component parts to the building For example, structural insulated panels (SIPS) can be used, and when installed with high-quality tolerances and specified with good thermal properties, can achieve great insulation and airtightness.
Ensure an integrated team when designing and building homes.
When building and designing, an integrated team is essential to ensure that the whole team has aligned thinking:
Construction – on site, detailing and quality are important, for example if panels are installed incorrectly they could create an air-gap and decrease airtightness, and the wrong type of screws could create a weakness in the thermal performance of the building.
Design – integrating the designs and structural properties with the size and structural properties of the SIPS panels, and with the mechanical and electrical systems, for example optimising roof-space and orientation for solar collectors, and allowing internal space for heat-pumps and batteries.
Selection of material – specifying the building method to be used, for example SIPS, so that designs can be orientated to the (various) panel sizes.
At ethical partnership we offer a comprehensive range of ecology and landscape services to both public and private sector clients to enable them to design developments and other schemes that are sensitive to the needs of wildlife, landscape and habitats. We help our clients protect and conserve local and global environmental resources, have been successful in securing standard and bespoke environmental permits and have an excellent working relationship with the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.
With such as vast range of experience, no planning consultancy is better suited to advise on Zero Carbon Buildings as we are. Contact us and together protect the environment for future generations.