Will the Government's Aspirations of Zero Carbon Living become a Reality?....
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The Heat Is On

Posted on May 2, 2009

Will the Government's Aspirations of Zero Carbon Living become a Reality?

This article was published in May 2009. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Did you realise that by 2016, the Government will expect that all new homes that are built will be zero carbon? In order for a house to be classed as being zero carbon, it will have to generate as much power as it uses over the course of a year. For most of us, the idea of having a home that generates enough power to meet its own requirements would appear as likely as the 50 pence litre of petrol. However, the zero carbon home is not a figment of imagination but became a step closer to mass reality with the first four-bedroom house being unveiled in Kent.

The question that begs to be asked is how can we really achieve this?

There is no doubt that meeting this objective will be expensive. In most cases, traditional building materials and construction techniques will not cut the metaphorical mustard and will have to be markedly improved. Where we site a house and how it is orientated will have to be considered.

For example, there will be an expectation that new build properties will be orientated in such a way as to maximise space heating from the winter sun and shade from cold northerly winds. Following traditional street patterns may have to be jeopardised in favour of space heating orientation. Don't be surprised to find that those icy drafts synonymous with older properties will be consigned to history and instead, we can look forward to air tight rooms and entrance lobbies designed to reduce mass migration of heat. All very well but what do we do with the excessively flatulent dog in an airtight room?

The fun doesn't stop there. We can look forward to motion detection lighting, which means it will only come on when areas within the home are actively populated and intelligent software to prioritise the use of appliances and stagger their use.

Ways of physically generating renewable energy include the use of ground or air source heat pumps for hot water and space heating together with the use of biomass as a fuel.

For the generation of electrical power, it is likely that in future, our roofscape will be populated by micro generating wind turbines and banks of gleaming photovoltaic cells adorned to roof planes. This will certainly have an impact upon the appearance of sensitive landscapes and conservation areas.

Our local environment will determine what our buildings will look like. Zero Carbon will mean that road miles will be reduced in favour of using locally sourced materials.

Moreover, we can look forward to harvesting our rainwater and recycling it through the use of reed bed technology for example.

There is no doubt that the technology is there but in these times of economic belt tightening, can all those involved in the delivery of homes stomach the additional burden of meeting the zero carbon challenge?

Does the idea of living in a draft proof room do it for you? We look forward to your comments.

For more information on home improvement matters, please visit www.doineedplanningpermission.co.uk

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