This article was written by Tony McNally, Managing Director, Climate Change Solutions.
The 2030 climate change emergency makes it imperative to ensure that new homes and communities are a showcase for our low carbon future and provide a better life for all.
The Green Building Council illustrates a range of successful best practice including the Norfolk council housing built to passive house standard at no extra cost. See: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/oct/08/stirling-prize-architecture-goldsmith-street-norwich-council-houses
New housing estates should be designed to accommodate a balance of social needs for families, singles, disabled and affordable with minimised car dependence and maximum green space, walls, trees and hedges.
Smart energy systems should be integrated as standard. District energy should be provided for the whole estate. This could be a community combined heat and power system, initially gas supplied, but anticipating green hydrogen to be phased in to replace carbon.
Power should be procured by a single contracted supplier that would ensure maximising on site generation of renewable power, i.e. solar tiles on all roofs as well as off- site production for 100% renewable supply. There should be plug-in points for electrical and fuel cell vehicles. Every street lamppost should include a micro wind turbine and solar panel supplying the LED street lighting. Maximum energy efficiency should be applied to the buildings including under floor heating, argon gas filled double glazed, self-cleaning windows and external doors where appropriate.
- Building on flood plains is to be avoided as the consequence is costly for all particularly given the extreme weather.
- Water harvesting with water butts and ponds; green spaces with trees and hedge rows to soak up and allow nature in and permeable surfaces and water pipes and infra-structure adequate to cope with increased rainfall should be installed.
- Water efficient taps and showers should be standard with small bather for babies.
UK Green Buildings Council Net zero carbon buildings framework
When the amount of carbon emissions associated with a building product and construction stages up to practical completion is zero or negative, using off-sets or the net export of on-site renewable energy. (net zero carbon construction.
When the amount of carbon emissions associated with the building’s operational energy on an annual basis is zero or negative. A net carbon building is highly energy efficient and powered from on-site and/or off-site renewable energy services, with any remaining carbon balance offset. (net zero carbon-operational energy