NZC - what does it mean for future homes?

18 Nov 2020


For some time, our industry has been discussing how to effectively reduce our carbon emissions by making improvements to Part L, renewable technologies and lowering heat losses in new builds across the UK. But in the last few years it really feels like we have had a coming together of MMC and modular technologies, including renewable energy systems, funding, mortgage-ability, improved awareness and technical standards, driving tried and tested renewable technology towards a real chance for change. Yes, there is more to do, a lot more, but it feels, to us like a real step forward and a momentum that is growing to want to, and need to, deliver net-zero carbon homes.

Earlier this year the government consultation ended on the Future Homes Standard. The proposals were a leap closer to zero-carbon; a 75-80% reduction of carbon on current building regulations by 2025 – that is only five years away. The consultation suggests that from 2025, new homes will not be connected to the gas grid and instead, developers will need to use low carbon heating alternatives. Last year (June 2019), parliament passed legislation requiring the government to reduce the UK’s net emissions of greenhouse gases and by 2050 make the UK a net-zero emitter.

Over the last eighteen months or so (even throughout lockdown), we have seen a significant increase in the amount of enquiries we receive around how to design and deliver net-zero carbon homes. Primarily, to date, from the council’s direct delivery affordable housing programmes (or through council’s delivery frameworks), as well as increasingly with registered providers and build to rent developers. Anybody with a long term stake in their property assets need to, and are slowly beginning to, work out what needs to change for the future.

We are delivering net-zero carbon homes, defined as when the amount of carbon dioxide emissions released by a building (in use), on an annual basis, is zero or negative. Our order-book and enquiries for NZC delivery is growing. We are having really interesting conversations with modular housing providers and MMC about how we can efficiently and cost effectively incorporate NZC into their products. We are talking to RP’s about how we can plug into their existing estate regeneration programmes with MMC and net-zero carbon.

And it is really cool.

We are talking about how we can play a small part in addressing one of the biggest and scariest challenges of our future. We have all seen how Covid-19 affected literally everyone on the planet, and that's nothing compared to the changes coming if we do not stop the climate crisis. We all know this and we can, in our industry (which contributes around 40% of the UK's total carbon footprint) do something about it.

Our Design Director, Dave Hughes, discusses sustainable housing and what a net-zero carbon means for the future of architecture. You can watch the full discussion through the link below ↓

Net-Zero Carbon - What You Need to Know

In collaboration with GL Hearn, chaired by Jonathan Martin, Director of Inward Investment, Economic Growth and Housing Delivery at London Borough of Waltham Forest with presentations from, and about:

Jenny Kay (Head of Housing) GL Hearn
Funding and development - what do registered providers and landlords need to start thinking about?

Dave Hughes (Design Director) - Fuse Architects
Design and delivery - delivered examples of designs for achieving net zero carbon affordable housing about delivering affordable, sustainable housing across the UK.

Stuart Smith (Building Surveyor) - Blakeney Leigh
Cost and value - what is the extra over costs, what is the extra value, what technologies are most cost efficient