House builders face the challenge of constructing new builds that comply with the UK governments zero carbon guidelines by 2016. Architects in Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland are challenged with designing homes that meet these guidelines.
What Does Zero Carbon Mean?
The definition of a truly zero carbon house is:
where the carbon dioxide emissions resulting from all the energy used in the dwelling is zero or better.
So far some of the eco friendly builds are not living up to their green promise and steps need to be taken to improve the green home design of the future. Although the people living in these homes are happy with the reduced heating bills the houses are losing approximately 54% more heat than they should be.
What Does Zero Carbon Mean For Great Britain?
While lessons can be learned from some of our European colleagues we need to revisit the ‘Great British Home’ and not flood the country with Scandinavian style eco homes.
The government are urging architects back to their drawing boards to take the traditional British house design and make it zero carbon.
Some of the targets are similar to those of Passivhaus standards and while Passivhaus requires the occupants to embrace a certain lifestyle, the homes designed in Great Britain would retain their British characteristics but just be more efficient.
So how will the guidelines be achieved?
Green architecture and eco friendly building takes into account a variety of techniques from solar panels to grey water recycling and while new builds will be designed to take advantage of these techniques, existing homes can also take advantage of energy saving technology.
Different forms of wall insulation, better air tightness, more efficient windows, solar panels, grey water recycling, use of local, natural materials and a variety of other methods can ensure that we keep our homes traditional looks while meeting zero carbon targets.
Many of these energy saving/producing techniques can be added to existing homes helping to push housing stock towards zero carbon standards.
How Will These Targets Affect Architects In Scotland?
Architects in Scotland are already at the forefront of designing homes that meet zero carbon targets. The RIBA winners 2011 were a Scottish company designing an eco friendly home that met Passivhaus standards for insulation, was praised for its sustainable construction and the fact that it recessed into the hillside and more or less ‘disappears’ into the landscape.
So with Passivhaus standards, Scandinavian style eco homes and environmentally friendly homes being designed the world over will we be able to reduce carbon emissions as a planet and start to rely on renewable sources of power?
It is looking more and more likely as architects and builders work together to guide us in the direction of green living.