Zero carbon sets its sights on new builds


The government has proposed that all new domestic homes should be zero carbon by 2016 and all new commercial buildings should be zero carbon on 2019.

So how does a building qualify to be zero carbon? Well, basically it means that the building must emit zero carbon dioxide emissions for all energy use (eg including electricity to heat and cool the building) over a period of one year.

Buildings are responsible for around 50% of the UK's total carbon dioxide emissions and the government hopes this is revolutionary move will be the right step towards a low carbon economy.

In July 2007 the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) publish the "Housing Green Paper" which provides information on how the government aims to achieve the target of 3 million new homes which are affordable, well-designed and "greener" by 2020.

The "Code for Sustainable Homes" sets out building standards which all new homes in England must be rated against: Buildings will be rated in 9 design categories:
  • Energy and carbon dioxide emissions
  • Water
  • Materials
  • Surface water run-off
  • Waste
  • Pollution
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Management
  • Ecology

The Home Information Pack (Amendment) Regulations 2008 also states that those selling new homes in England must include a "sustainability certificate".

The UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) launched a consultation on a new code for Sustainable Buildings on 14 July 2008 and the outcome of the consultation is set to be presented at the UK-GBC conference in March 2009.
Many developers feel that the spotlight is being put on new homes/buildings and that existing homes/buildings should receive the same scrutiny.

The DCLG has commented that it is looking into ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing homes/buildings. Some measures have already been put in place such as:
  • Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)
  • Carbon Emissions Reduction Targets (CERT)
  • Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC)
  • Energy Saving Trust
  • Warm Front and Decent Homes Programmes
  • Initiatives to improve household appliances energy efficiency

Climate change is a very important issue and all of the above schemes and initiatives show that everyone can do their bit to achieve a greener environment.

Simpson Millar LLP is currently looking at its own carbon footprint and that of its employees and is trying to create a more environmentally friendly environment within which we operate.

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