There have been some very worthwhile and considered articles and comments on the definition of and feasibility of zero carbon recently – take a look at Mels post .. and Phils post for excellent round ups and for good technical comment take a look at CarbonLimited from Casey
The difference in opinions and views is healthy – maybe there is no ‘one’ definition, maybe we should not waste (mental) energy on defining – but as per the zero accidents, zero waste and zero defects debates of recent years accept it as a worthwhile, Utopian goal and work how how to best get there. I recall from my TQM days the concept of zero waste drives lean management approaches, but absolute zero waste is not ‘defined’ – it is a philosophy.
From the supply, contractors, perspective the very confusing debate on what is zero carbon just encourages the ‘keep heads down until it blows over approach’. Understandable, but a strategy that will return to haunt those not prepared to address the changes we will have to make. Most do not have a strategy or vision for moving to a low carbon future, content to be led by circumstances.
Within the Route to Zero programme I run, we start to understand, from industry intelligence, what an organisations customers, shareholders, people and even suppliers are expecting in the context of zero carbon over the next 10 – 20 years. From this intellenge we can develop a maturity matrix of strategies and objectives that would be necessary, ie a Route to Zero. A matrix that would be reviewed regulaly as ‘requirements’ will unfold and change and most likely toughen up. Armed with such a route-map, organisations may not achieve zero , but have the evidence that they are thinking of a zero future.
And as to the general public, those who will buy the zero carbon homes, Mel is correct in pointing out the confusion we as an industry may be giving, a damaging message maybe? What home owners would like to know is the balance between capital purchase and the running costs per month, and what savings per month would a code 6 or zero carbon home give me over a traditional home? Take a look at the house sale literature in the states – this is exactly what green homes are sold on – a reduction in energy bills, making the purchase of green homes desirable, a no brainer and making non green homes nearly unsaleable.
Ad then there is the existing housing stock issue …. which is where effort must be put, not on new build, eco challenges, eco home etc etc ….