Feasibility of zero carbon homes in UK by 2016 from a developer’s perspective.


Executive Summary

With global climate change has become the public attention, the concept of sustainable development has permeated all levels of social production and life. 60% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions has set by the UK government in 2050, this reduction carbon emissions will be a commitment into all industry, which are including currently carbon dioxide emissions in the housing sector, approximately 27%. It is considered that the building trades played an important role in the people’s daily life, as well as it has gradually become an important goal in energy consumption of the society and carbon dioxide emissions for building. This paper analyzes related to a low-carbon scenario by BedZED housing and Kingspan Lighthouse. This report sets out the survey which is feasibility of achieve zero-carbon homes of UK in 2016 from the perspective of developers. A comprehensive research about feasibility of zero carbon houses, which through questionnaires and in-depth semi-structured interviews with the UK’s developers. Research illustrated that there is currently facing a number of legislative, financial, cultural and technical barriers for achieving of zero carbon homes in the UK by 2016. The developers agreed that these challenges are not insurmountable.


Climate change has become a major problem, which requires coordinated and urgent measure of global response. To solve the issue of global warming, the United Kingdom sets up approximately 60% of the objective, and reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 at 2000 levels with real progress by 2020. This commitment is that reduction of carbon emissions would be required from all sectors, which is including the housing sector. Recent statistics indicate that the total energy consumption in the UK’s overall carbon emissions, carbon dioxide emissions by more than half of the residential construction-related, it is rising since 1997, accounting for 27% in the UK’s carbon emissions. In addition, a similarly situation also exists in other developed and developing countries. Obviously, energy efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions building have become the highlight of the government to solve climate change. In recent years, the development of house industry in the UK, there is a example of the residential, new homes which are the equivalent of half of the total existing homes will be built from the government of UK plans in 2006-2050, as a result the current residential energy efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions of the main policy priorities concentrated in new residential areas. The British government plans to achieve all new homes zero carbon emissions in 2016, which be better able to complete the “Climate Change Plan” developed in carbon dioxide emissions in the milestones. Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) was released by government, which is a way to achieve zero carbon homes in the UK. For house building industry, CSH set ambitious objective. To achieve this ambitious goal, it was tried by “ecological residential assessment” (BREEAMEcoHomes) on the basis of experience. The UK’s government established the “Sustainable Residential Code” in 2007, and then the specification in 2008 officially enforced in the residential market. In order to have enough time to adjust the introduction of the new specification, the residential market took a gradual approach: All new buildings must be built on the basis of an effective energy efficiency standards and achieve sustainable housing specification third stage in 2010; until 2013 all new homes must meet the specification requirements of the fourth grade; while new housing have to meet the specifications on (the highest level) requirements sixth grade on the basis of the use of renewable energy sources, to achieve zero or even negative carbon emissions in 2016. Appropriate supporting measures have emerged, such as economic incentives (reduction of stamp duty etc.). The aim of this report is to discuss the feasibility of zero carbon homes in the UK by 2016 from a developer’s perspective.

2 Drivers of Zero-carbon housing

Although the UK’s government has introduced carbon dioxide emissions and building energy efficiency related to laws and regulations, the developers and related practitioners does not limited to take methods and strategies in obtaining these goals of the process. For example, developers considered from building design strategies, various factors involved in the design process: the importance of aesthetics, the relationship between the role of technology, nature and the built environment, sustainable building practices should choose the use of optimistic or pessimistic attitudes. However, the focus of the dispute is still able to focus on sustainable building through technical means to achieve? At the same time, in addition to the political environment and economic, drivers are included in the low-carbon homes in the UK, which is widely gathered in three categories: business, culture and legislation.

2.1 Business drivers

With the commercial of real estate industry in the number of companies in UK, there is growth culture presence in the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of the industry. For the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility, the title “Building a Sustainable Future” was presented from the WWF report (2007). Moreover, through the UK’s largest real estate developer survey, the figure shows that 70% developer agreed that this approach support 65% policies in reporting of sustainable development for sustainable development. Thus, Corporate Social Responsibility has become a powerful driver, the potential of zero carbon homes as a method which be used to improve their environmental performance in the company. In addition, the World Wide Fund for Nature (2005) report proposed that investment achieve sustainable development and a high standard of social and environmental performance, which can be used to attract qualified employees and customers as a developer’s advantage. In fact, a survey by Shires and Keeping (2004) claimed that their marketing goals and they can get profits from the difference in the market place, it is for this reason stimulated the supply chain can more initiative to develop green products

2.2 Cultural drivers

Low-carbon residential was considered an area of ​​interest and growing of the market, although currently demand is limited for customers. Sponge Sustainable Development Network (2007) conducted a study, which found that people are increasingly looking forward to adopt sustainable lifestyles for UK residents. Growth of customer demand could encourage the development of sustainable development. Dobson (2007) suggest that the growing low carbon culture can be established by the government measures proposed, through property valuation sustainability factors that included financial incentives, which was provided by Lutzendorf and Lorenz (2007). Prevailing favorable government policies (Energy White Paper) and planning policy statement 1 (PPS1), which aims to promote sustainable development in the building environment, in other words, it is possible to improve the utilization of low-carbon residential functions and promotion of the development. It is undeniable that some of the issue could be encountered during this period. The main obstacles included the design and legal, cultural, financial and technical obstacles.

2.3 Legislation driver.

Future prospects of the legislation should be proved to achieve zero carbon homes as the main driving force in the 2016. Expected CSH, which is a voluntary program, currently it is probably that CSH as the most influential driver. Vorsatz et al. emphasizes (2007) that energy performance certificates, introduced the second choice of the legislation and building route instructions, guidelines, these measures may be the main driver of zero carbon housing point lead to be successful in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and cost effectiveness.

3. Low-carbon housing obstacles.

Conversely, some of the obstacles can not be ignored in the low-carbon homes in the UK, the traditional concept, restricting innovative and the uptake of results-based approach are maintained in the design and construction of energy-saving houses in house building industry. In addition to the prevailing view of disagreement (tradition to creation), Sustainable Development Research Network (2007) illustrated that there is a lack of demand for sustainable property among the public, such as the lack of the client with requirement of sustainable development. Increasing of the perceived cost is another barrier to achieve zero carbon homes and high standard of construction-related from trying to overcome the existing design, culture and technical challenges. Some studies claimed that housing developers are reluctant to incite innovation and implementation, due to the implementation of these standards related to the actual cost increases or high sustainability standards. Since the established of CSH, which has become more obviously. In fact, Williams and Adair (2007) and Cato (2008) admitted that the high cost is a major obstacle to achieve zero carbon homes compared with traditional architecture. In addition, the uncertainty the realization of the actual cost of the different levels of CSH exacerbated this issue. Studies indicate that the cost to achieve different levels of CSH will provide due to the size of each particular economy homebuilders and construction methods used varies.

Considering the lack of cost and the demand of zero carbon housing, and technical issues, the current sustainability culture and related to the financial data. It is clearly that the government may face a number of challenges and obstacles in achieving goal of zero carbon homes for the current financial environment. On the other hand, if there have no the specific legislation, the house developer’s will create another challenge between excess intakes. This is a research by Adeyeye et al (2007), which indicates that the architectural design is not often supported by the legislation. Therefore, there is a suggestion that the UK’s government should get rid of energy saving policies, balanced legislation to help that a market of sustainable development is created. In hence, home developers will promote zero carbon housing and will solve many issues, which will become common construction in the UK.

4.The code for Sustainable Homes(CSH)

CSH is based on sustainable building standards of the UK real estate industry in the future. CSH includes nine main sustainability issues into a policy document, such as the health of the occupants of the house, which must meet the minimum standards for carbon dioxide emissions in mandatory part of the CSH. For instance, ” PassivHaus in Germany ” and “R-2000 in Canada”, in order to ensure level 6 to achieve zero carbon homes, it provides all domestic energy must be renewable energy. Beyond PassiveHaus standard, however it does not specify the allowable energy, which sets the maximum energy consumption 15kWh/m2 level, the annual cooling and heating. Therefore it is concluded that other classes required for the CSH water use, waste and materials, the Code is one of the most demanding international standards of housing and most challenging. CSH using the star system, which is considered more than EcoHomes system, it is more appropriate. There is an example to explain the processing, ‘1 ‘star represents an improvement of more than 10% of the building regulations. ‘6’ star is equivalent to a zero carbon home. Standard was mandatory set and CSH will gradually change this situation.


This research will use three methods, including research, quantitative and qualitative research methods. Quantitative research will use the form of the questionnaire, which was mailed to the major housing developers in the UK. The questionnaire was created around the results of previous studies, the establishment of housing construction in the current low-energy residential construction industry in general practice perspective, drivers of achieving zero-carbon and challenges to design and achieve development zero-carbon homes. The crowd of Investigation is limited to the top 100 real estate developers in the UK. The survey is for the largest housing development in the UK, as compared with smaller housing developers, it has large and adequate resources, which should be possible to promote zero-carbon strategies into their project planning, implementation and execution. Furthermore, the main point is that most of the construction sites of these organizations in the UK. The questionnaire consists of four main parts: zero-carbon drivers, current zero-carbon practices, and challenges of zero-carbon homes and feasibility of zero carbon housing practice. It is designed a closed range from ‘1 ‘to ‘5’.For example, respondents were required to rate some of the obstacles from 1-5 for zero carbon homes in the UK (1, it is not a barrier; 2, insignificant; 3 minors; 4 significantly; 5, the main barrier). On the other hand, there is a space, which is provided at the end of each section, respondents can elaborate evaluation and accommodate more information. In addition, findings of the survey through in-depth semi-structured interviews, which were set up qualitative research to enhance the research object. Interview was designed to focus on zero carbon homes viability in 2016, which is basis on a specific data from questionnaire. Six respondents have been selected, and they expressed their willingness to participate in further research responses for the questionnaire. Of course, before interview with reporters, which allows a certain degree of preparation for a week. Finally, according to the literature and the results of a questionnaire to get the maximum benefit in the interview process, because of they push out a detailed investigation for the feasibility of UK’s zero carbon homes in 2016.

6. Result

Both the questionnaire and interview results will give valuable insights for current zero-carbon practice and targeted challenges of zero-carbon homes in 2016 in the UK house building industry. Theme quantitative and qualitative research respondent’s reaction will be discussed.

Some serious problems are found in the preliminary investigation, it may delay the zero carbon agenda in the housing sector, unless quickly, all realistic strategy is implemented through the entire supply chain. Someone calls that “zero carbon” of definition should be rethink. It is vague that its current form and structured guidelines are no clear. This is anxiety related to housing developers to comply with the requirements of the CSH, all energy was provided by renewable energy. UKGBC (2008) findings displayed that it is believed that, in some cases, renewable energy technologies are not reliable and feasible. Williams and Adair (2008); and Sullivan, etc. (2006) considered that the use of energy service companies provided regional renewable energy will be more feasible from a cost, maintainability, reliability, safety and security point of view, and this combined could create effective legislation will increase the opportunity to achieve zero carbon homes goals.

Customer demand is seen in zero carbon residential houses by the survey of developers, which ensures Dutton (2005) and Carter (2006) findings, it is an important factor in the development. However, it needs government action, interviews with the findings of this growing demand and legislation to create a national market for zero-carbon homes emphasized Vorsatz et al (2007).

The World Wide Fund identified costs of sustainable solutions for Nature (2004), Williams and Adair (2007) and Cato (2008) study as prohibitive. The study showed that housing developers are concerned about commercial interests and costs, which are still unknown, to create zero-carbon homes. Therefore, some people would be willing to bear the costs in the case of CSH to become legislation, unless it consists of a clear and comprehensive range of areas of legal constraints.



The purpose of this report is from a developer’s point to view feasibility of zero carbon homes in the UK in 2016, which is through a comprehensive literature review and questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, as well as achieving of participating in the process industries. The study found that the technically of zero carbon homes are feasible, clear and concise operation is needed from the government and the housing construction industry, consequently it can be achieved in 2016. Survey has identified that the most important aspects needed note from the government, they need consider their objectives of house building industry and corresponding legislative, which will involve zero carbon homes target, so that all stakeholders in the process of building development should make sure that the planning department is not an obstacle. In addition, it need modify the definition of zero carbon, in order to facilitate the use of energy service companies, as well as increasing of customer awareness and demand. On the other hand, the government and industry for studying of the cost-effectiveness of technical solutions to zero-carbon homes should allocate more resources. Optimization offsite construction techniques and processes can contribute to change by the CSH technical steps required, which may be easier to achieve execution.

In the research, it has become clear that it is necessary to the establishment of a joint and comprehensive approach to achieve zero carbon target, it should be guided by a comprehensive and successful legislative measures. This should promote a cohesive manner, the implementation of zero carbon homes agenda to ensure that a clear and consistent line from all stakeholders, designers, local planning apartment, and housing developer, participation, commitment.


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