2016 Zero Carbon Home Standard

From 2016 it will become law that all new homes in England must meet the Zero Carbon Home Standard. Therefore, Housing Associations need to be prepared and gain an idea of the time and costs involved in order to ensure compliance. This may include looking past traditional construction methods and considering more modern methods.

The Zero Carbon Home Standard will require all new homes to mitigate all carbon emissions produced on-site which will include energy used to provide heating, cooling, hot water and fixed lighting – emissions from cooking and ‘plug-in’ appliances will not be included. The new standard will be set at Level 5 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, although developers will be able to build to Code Level 4 if mitigating all carbon emissions on site is neither technically feasible nor cost effective, as long as the remaining carbon is offset through off-site allowable solutions schemes. In short, this new law will require a 19% reduction in carbon emissions compared with the ADL1A 2013 regarding conservation of fuel and power in new dwellings.

As a result, some believe that traditional construction methods will not be suitable in meeting these new standards without significant reliance on renewable technology and that Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) are the solution. SIPs are a high performance building system that, although costly, provide thermally efficient and air tight buildings.

When compared with traditional masonry and timber frame constructions, SIPs appear to be the best option. Both the masonry and the timber construction require several additional technologies, including parge coats and sealing of air barriers, in order to achieve compliance with the new regulations whereas the SIPs require no other technologies to achieve the standard.

With the introduction of the Zero Carbon Homes Standard in 2016, Housing Associations will need to find a balance between managing costs and delivering the best homes and it can be strongly argued that SIPs are the solution to this as they offer a predictable and high performance construction solution.

Syntegra Consulting is a leading energy consulting company in the UK – for further information regarding zero carbon buildings, energy efficiency and renewable energy investments, please telephone +44(0)8450091625 or e-mail: mail@syntegra-epc.co.uk

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