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UK housing is some the least energy efficient in Europe and to meet carbon emission targets, carbon emission from UK households need to be reduced by a least 80%, if not more. Additionally, the housing market is picking up because of the ‘help to buy’ scheme. Meaning more individuals are able to afford to purchase a home and many are choosing new builds. One of the advantages of purchasing a newly built home is they tend to be greener and this means significantly lower energy bills, which also helps to make them more affordable for buyers. New builds mean you can buy more confidently. There is less need for property lawyers due to speculation of asbestos, or something else which could affect the living conditions of your home, and your rights as a homebuyer. Gordon Dean, solicitors based in Norfolk specialise in such claims, click here to find out more. Current New Build Green Options The housing industry has taken note of this need for environmentally friendly housing and even some of the housing being currently built is relatively green. For instance Abel homes, who specialise in building new homes in Norfolk, have a range of green homes options, many of which come as standard features of their new builds. Solar PV which allows home owners to take advantage of the government incentive (the feed-in-tariffs) and create their own electricity. The insulation is well over the level required by law, the walls have “super” insulation and there is triple glazing, features which all help the home to retain heat and thus aid energy efficiency making the home cheaper to heat and keep warm. The central heating systems are all Band A - the most energy efficient type. Zero-Carbon Homes of the Near Future This kind of new build is definitely a step in the right direction for the UK housing stock, however the government has recognised that to meet its steep targets of reduced carbon emissions that every new home built from 2016 needs to be zero-carbon, i.e. it offsets or produces the amount of carbon it uses in a year. There have been various projects looking into the best way to realistically achieve such a goal. I will detail the key feature of one particular zero-carbon home case study, to give an idea of what creating a zero carbon home involves. The Greenwatt Way Case Study: This project was created by Scottish and Southern Energy, they created 10 homes and monitored how the energy efficiency held up when individuals live their daily lives in the housing. The zero carbon target is met through various means; the materials the homes are built with are fabrics that help to limit heat loss in the home. These materials help to increase the heat recovery efficiency of a home to 92% - much higher than in most homes. The overall need for heat and lighting in these homes was reduced by innovative design and fabric performance. However, that alone does not create a zero-carbon home, the way tenants use the home has to be energy and water efficient. Thus all the appliances in the house are energy efficient and there is smart metering and smart appliances to aid with energy monitoring and use. The homes also feature a grey water recycling system, where used bath and shower water is recycled and used to flush toilets and recover wasted heat. All the houses make use of a central rainwater collection system, where the water is stored and can be used to flush toilets and provide water for car washing and irrigation. The final component in creating homes which are carbon neutral is utilising renewable energy; low carbon heating and hot water are supplied to all the homes from a renewable energy centre. This centre takes the best of domestic renewable technology and combines them to provide the energy and heating these homes need. The energy centre includes solar thermal panels, an air source heat pump, a ground source heat pump and a biomass boiler. This is just one example of how to create a zero-carbon housing, hopefully in the future all new builds will be carbon neutral which will benefit both the home owner (saving on bills) and the environment.