ZERO CARBON HOMES 3
ZeroCarbon Homes (ZHC)
Itis projected that presently, one-third of the overall worldwidegreenhouse gas emissions are from buildings, predominantly throughthe utilization of fossil fuels throughout their operational phase [ CITATION UKG17 l 1033 ].Past endeavors to addressthese emissions have shown a mixed record of success, even thoughthere are numerous examples which demonstrate that well-thought andadequately financed policies can achieve considerable carbonreductions. Various global agreements negotiated over the pastseveral years have provided decision-makers with exceptionalopportunities to integrate emissions from buildings into aninternational approach to combating climate change (Goodchild2011).However, if the most wanted targets for greenhouse gases cutback areto be realized, decision-makers have to address increasing emissionsfrom the Building Sector (Obe2008).They need to make the alleviation of greenhouse gas emissions frombuildings the foundation of the climate change plan. Streamlining thepolicy of zero carbon homes in the UK would be a huge step towardsthe mitigation of greenhouse emissions.
Historyof the ZHC Policy
In2007, the Labour Government formulated the Buildinga Greener Future: Policy Statement thatsought to ensure all new homes in Britain are zero carbon by the year2016. The policy sought to ensure there is zero carbon emission tosupport the fight against climate change by cutting greenhouse gases[ CITATION Zer17 l 1033 ].Thepolicy’s zero carbon emission was to be realized through stagedimprovements as well as Building Regulations. After a Task Groupknown as UK-GBC provided recommendations through its study entitledCarbonreductions in new non-domestic buildingsin 2008, a corresponding target was announced stipulating that from2019 all new buildings must be zero carbon. In 2008, the governmentand stakeholders in the real estate or property market jointlyfinanced the Zero Carbon Hub to prepare for the zero carbon homespolicy implementation (Obe2008).
TheZCH are part of the wider strategy to realize the Climate Change Act(2008). By 2016, all new homes were to implement some mitigatingmeasures to reduce carbon emission being produced on-site forinstance, cooling and space heating, fixed lighting, and hot water asindicated in the Building Regulations’ Part L1A. Homes constitute aone-quarter of carbon emissions in the UK. Hence, the Zero CarbonTriangle was touted as a route to deliver the ZCH policy. At home,carbon reductions would be achieved through a three-tiered stage thatincludes setting energy efficiency standards or fabric EESsecondly, carbon compliance using extra fabric EES and on-siterenewable technologies of to ensure 10 to 14 kgCO2 of emission per m2annually. Lastly, the residual carbon would be decreased off-site via‘Allowable Solutions’ (Goodchild2011).
Later,the new UK’s Coalition Government affirmed its obligation in 2010to deliver the zero carbon homes by the year 2016 (Obe2008).Hence, the Building Regulations were reinforced consistently with theproposals agreed in 2007. During a speech in 2014, H.M QueenElizabeth also supported the zero carbon homes policy and theintroduction of Allowable Solutions initiatives, that is, carbonoff-setting program. Later in 2015, the facilitating powers torealize the Allowable Solutions mechanisms were established(Goodchild2011).
Unfortunately,in July 2015, the new administration which came to power demonstratedits reluctance in proceeding with the zero carbon Allowable Solutionsas well as the 2016 amplification in on-site energy efficiencystandards (Goodchild2011).This affected both the policy for non-domestic buildings and homes.However, despite the past endeavors to ensure the realization of zerocarbon homes experiencing numerous setbacks, there have been a numberof successful projects that have proved that building of such homesis a possibility. Today, more than 70,000 Code Level 4 houses havebeen constructed, and several large developments such as Oxford andCambridge have demonstrated that zero carbon standards can be fullydelivered. Progressive developers and clients in the non-domesticmarkets have also effectively delivered zero-carbon buildings such asCosta ‘zeroenergy’ coffee shop (Obe2008).Thisis an indication that careful consideration and properly fundedpolicies can lead to sustainable homes.
Driversto achieve desired carbon reduction targets
Policiesto tackle greenhouse emissions from homes are normally complex andentail more than one stakeholder. The building and education sectorhave important roles in the achievement of zero carbon homes in theUK (Killip2008).Therefore, if the targets for delivering zero carbon standards are tobe realized, it is obvious that policy-makers ought to work incollaboration with the education and building sectors. The lesseningof greenhouse gas emissions from homes should be basis the globalclimate change strategy. In order to come up with zero carbon homes,the governments and stakeholders in the building and educationsectors should design and execute policies effectively. In order toachieve zero carbon homes, the government should devise and executecertain policies and acquisition of different types of skills shouldbe provided through the training systems and applied by buildingprofessionals.
Thereis need for a coherent policy for the current housing stock thatreflects the strategy that is being applied in new house-buildingwith a grand future standard set with intermediate milestones.Although the house-building sector is taking the challenge seriously,a similar long-term policy is required in the refurbishment industryso as to give the sector adequate confidence to make the requiredinvestments to start meeting the challenge. The government,therefore, needs to provide a clear policy signal to initiate theprocess of innovation, development of skills and capacity building inthe housing sector, aimed at achieving the future standard forbuilding refurbishment that is in line with 80 percent carbonemissions by 2050 (Killip2008).
Buildingcommissioning is the methodical testing procedure carried out to makecertain that a building’s systems have been devised, fixed and madeready to function in conformity with the design purpose and the houseowner’s operational requirements (Killip2008).In a similar manner that ordinary servicing lengthens the lifespan ofa vehicle, the appropriate commissioning of the power systems inhouses is vital to the efficient function of the house later in itslife cycle. In the United States, for instance, proper buildingcommissioning has generated remarkable outcomes, with energy savingsof up to 62% in heating and 38% in cooling in addition to an averageoverall energy savings higher than 30%.
Onthe other hand, mandatory energy audits are an extension ofcommissioning processes and Building codes (Obe2008).The government should strictly make energy audits a compulsoryprocedure for all public buildings and large commercial consumers.The audits should also specify the importance of proper maintenanceof energy utilizing equipment such as heating boilers. Although theprocess of conducting detailed energy audits might be costly and needhigh levels of technical skills to carry out, they have merits overother policies as they give practical data and reach a hugepopulation of consumers in a short time. In developing countries,more consideration requires to be given to improving the quality ofauditors through offering financial and practical support to theowners and inhabitants of audited houses to execute the suggestionsof the audit.
Educationand training are considered very crucial in achieving the necessarycarbon reduction targets mainly because acknowledged qualificationsconfer professional status and are viewed as a fundamental badge ofcompetence (Killip2008).The government in collaboration with the construction sector needs tobe more supportive of apprenticeship programs and the training levysystem through which the industry pays for a significant portion oftraining provision. Today, the quality of education in constructioninstitutions is viewed as erratic with analysts expressingdissatisfaction with the training programs almost all aimed atschool-leavers. Although there are few mature entrants to the sectorwho often come from other industries experiencing scarcity of jobs,college courses can seem slow for these individuals with highmotivational levels and strong educational background. It is,therefore, important for the government and the industry to come upwith training programs that meet their needs as well.
Datacollection, analysis, and utilization are important skills indetermining energy performance indicators which are a criticalcomponent of different policy measures pertaining to energyconsumption in homes (Palmer2013).Government and building professionals, thus, require building thecapacity to measure energy use through training and acquisition ofthe required equipment. Data collected could also be used tofacilitate the utilization of energy use simulation software forhomes, which are proving to be valuable tools for engineers andbuilding designers.
Onthe other hand, lack of enforcement has been shown to be the mainweakness of policies on energy efficiency in developing nations (Obe2008).Therefore, policy makers need to have the skills required in theenforcement of regulatory policies such as Building Codes which,without being enforced, will make no impact. Enforcement needsappropriate instruction and comprehension of what policies are andwhat procedures are required if the project that is dependent on theregulation does not meet the legal standard. Lastly, buildingprofessionals must have the technical knowledge and skills on newbuilding techniques and technology in order to apply them. Therefore,such training needs as the qualification of raters, definition ofquality assurance requirements, development of code of standards anddefinition of insurance requirements require to be addressed for thedevelopment of persons to verify a building’s performance(Williams,2013).
Manygovernments provide financial incentives such as subsidized loans,capital subsidies, rebates, and grants to encourage building ownersand residents to invest in power efficiency measures and appliances(Killip2008).Similarly, financing the necessary resources required for zero carbonhomes could be realized through a combination of direct tax rebates,private-sector grants or loans financed by the public purse.Additionally, tax reform is required where the current regime offersperverse incentives, despite the private-sector’s potential tocontribute a considerable amount, especially in the mortgages market.These incentives would go a long way in funding projects that limitthe emission of greenhouse gases. Japan, for instance, has increasedcountrywide solar PV subsidies for railway stations, hospitals, andschools from 33% to 50%, other than offering subsidies for households(Palmer2013).Germany provides grants of subsidies for installation of solar waterheaters in public, residential and commercial buildings.
EnergyEfficient Mortgages (EEMS), commonly known as the “green mortgages”are loans that give the borrower lower interest rates, a savingdiscount or a bigger loan than normally allowed as an incentive forpurchasing a home that meets certain energy saving standards ormaking improvements that reduce carbon emission (Palmer2013).The financial motivation behind these mortgages is thatenergy-efficient homes will save cash for the home-owner, leading toan increased income that enables the beneficiary qualify to borrowmore. Although their attractiveness to both borrowers and loanersrelies in some part on the worth of the savings and thus the cost ofthe energy, they are an excellent case in point of how the financialindustry can accommodate the threat of the capitalization of energysaving in situations where a reliable verification system is in place(Obe2008).One of the requirements for the introduction of green mortgages isthus the presence of nationally accepted energy performance standardsthat are the responsibility of the government.
Itis projected that presently, one-third of the overall worldwidegreenhouse gas emissions are from buildings, chiefly through theutilization of fossil fuels throughout their operational phase. In2007, the Labour Government formulated the Buildinga Greener Future: Policy Statement thatsought to ensure all new homes in Britain are zero carbon by the year2016. The policy sought to ensure there is zero carbon emission tosupport the fight against climate change by reducing greenhousegases. Unfortunately, in July 2015, the new authorities following theelections announced its reluctance in proceeding with the zero carbonAllowable Solutions as well as the 2016 amplification in on-siteenergy efficiency standards. The important drivers in achieving thetarget for carbon emission include coherent policies in the sector,adequate training of professionals and provision of financialincentives by the government.
Goodchild,B. and Walshaw, A., 2011. Towards zero carbon homes in England? Frominception
topartial implementation. HousingStudies,26(6),pp.933-949.
Killip,G., 2008. Transforming the UK’s existing housing stock. Federationof Master Builders.
Obe,G.J., 2008. Houseof Commons Communities and Local Government Committee(Doctoral
dissertation,Institute of Local Government Studies, University of Birmingham).
Palmer,J. and Cooper, I., 2013. United Kingdom housing energy fact file2013. Departmentof
Energyand Climate Change.
Williams,J., 2013. Zero-carbonhomes: a road map.Routledge.
UK-GBC. 2017. New build: Domestic and Non-domestic. Retrieved 1 14, 2017, from UK Green
Buliding Council: http://www.ukgbc.org/resources/key-topics/new-build-and-
ZerocCarbonHub. 2017, 1 2. Zero Carbon Policy. Retrieved 1 14, 2017, from Zero Caron Hub: