Tag Archives: code level 6

Carbon Consultation Confusion (update)

There are a number of papers and proposals out for consultation at the moment, one just closed and another still to come.  So as a guide (and really looking for correction here if anyone can add to):

Code for Sustainable Buildings Consultation closed – expected feedback from UKGBC at Eco-Build

Zero Carbon Definition for Housing and Non Domestic – consultation closes 18 March (see my post defining zero carbon – more clarifications (for homes at least))  Doesnt include non domestic definition.

Heat and Energy Saving Strategy – sets out emissions from existing buildings to be approaching zero by 2050 – consultation opened yesterday 

Zero Carbon Definition for Non Domestic Buildings – expected later this year but anticipated to follow the principles in the Defintion for Homes.

*Update:  today National Energy Action (NEA) released their own strategy document entitled “National Energy Efficiency Strategy”. To view this document please Click Here.  According to the paper, this Strategy should establish a Code for Sustainable Existing Homes 

Confused?  It is not clear how these will ‘mash’ together, and indeed that is part of consultation, for example how will the Zero Carbon Definition (for Homes) relate to the Code for Sustainable Homes (in particular CSH6) – will it endorse or replace the CSH definition?

Whatever, this is an important aspect of the future of design, build and fm in the UK. The government are to be congratulated on being open on consultation – it is down to us to respond, make our points known …. for forever hold our peace and as Casey put it bitch in the pub.


For more informed views on LZC (low zero carbon) see Carbon limted blog posts

defining zero carbon – more clarifications (for homes at least)

On Wednesday I sat in on a Zero Carbon Hub consultation event relating to the defining-zero-carbon-homes-presentation2zero carbon definition  for buildings. I did manage to send some tweets via twitter during the session, and here, I have pulled these together to give a view on the consultation paper.

The event was not quite what I was expecting, as confusingly although the document out or consultation is entitled Definition of Zero Carbon Homes and Non Domestic Buildings, it doesn’t, Neil Jefferson head of the Hub informed us, cover Non Domestics – a separate consultation is expected soon.

Key to the proposal and principles are three elements expressed in the pyramid:


There is so much thinking, science , technology and even politics behind this hierarchy that isn’t (imho) expressed in the paper, but was covered in the slides from the session, handed out on USB drive and from here : defining-zero-carbon-homes-presentation2

Some interesting thoughts:

As to the rate of homes being built to CSH 6 (zero carbon) the following profile helps to explain the anticipated progress to 100% post 2016:


The aspirational target is a UK version of the German PassivHaus concept.  (as Denise Chevin mentions in Building Its principles are simple – the best way to go low carbon is to build a well-insulated, airtight envelope that is nice to live in. It also comes with a copper-bottomed pedigree, with thousands of completed buildings over its 17-year history.)

Nearly 50% present at event were developers and contractor and saw the on site achieving of standards as most demanding aspect of zero carbon. (Cost and quality) 

Will allowable solutions be just another complex carbon off-setting scheme? Could offsite allowances mean business as usual for designers / developers / builders ?  although 2/3 of those present thought that offsite renewables should n0t be included within carbon compliance.

New build house projects to (could?) decarbonise existing housing stock – this is an exciting new idea but received low interest in terms of potential (votes) from those present 

And as to who should monitor and police zero carbon?  Given three options ( Local Planning Authority/ Building Control Bodies/New form of accredited body) those present opted for c, New form of accredited body.

pPod – a new housing carbon challenge

English Partnerships have issued a Vision for a ‘community of the future’ in a press release today announcing the next carbon callenge project:

The development of an innovative, zero carbon neighbourhood in the centre of Peterborough moved a step closer today as pPod – a consortium consisting of Morris Homes, Gentoo Homes, and Browne Smith Baker architects – was selected as the preferred developer for Phase 1 of the city’s South Bank. The project will meet the highest level of the government’s Code for Sustainable Homes, as part of English Partnerships’ ground-breaking Carbon Challenge.

Homes will be zero carbon, meeting Level 6 of the Government’s Code for Sustainable Homes, years ahead of the 2016 target for when all homes will have to be built to this standard.  All commercial units will be built to BREEAM Excellent standard – one of the highest levels of energy efficiency and environmental performance.

(Comment: if this is a challenge project shouldn’t the BREEAM level be outstanding, not ‘just’ excellent ?)

on zero carbon and routes to get there …

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 ….

a guide to zero carbon homes

Zero carbon homes in 100 words.

The UK Green Building Council released a report this week defining what a zero-carbon house should be in practice. Download from here

Still to read in detail but on first read appears to be a welcomed, considered and helpful guide, with a time-line to help organisations on a route to zero.

There would however appear to be little focus on the construction process, the actual building of zero carbon homes, (an estimated 3-4 years or 11% of the total carbons in the homes life cycle). This is the one issue we desperately need to address, to get buy in from builders. Many of whom may look at this and conclude it has nothing to do with them – other than install or assemble different bits of eco kit and / or materials. For example, construction waste, construction site impacts and considerate contractors scheme – all part of the Code 6 requirements isnt mentioned within the guide. (Site waste management planning is mandatory)

Others, and I know fellow bloggers will, soon comment on the renewable energy and technology aspect of the guide… watch this space…

Finally (for now) I hope that this definition is the same in the soon to be released UK Construction Strategy for Sustainability !!

Hanham Hall … eco-village

At the weekend I visited the Hanham Hall exhibition, set up to inform local residents of the development. A nice chat with the project lead gave a nice feeling that this is an exciting project, yet I still have a feeling that this is not quite the direction to go…

Focus seems to be on the Code Level 6 – zero carbon homes, rather than on the wider sustainable communities. Where will people shop, where will they send their children to school and how will they get to work, were questions raised by friends.

Although it was accepted this particular design may not be the one we use in 2016 to acheive level 6, and there will be a degree of learning on the project for future projects, the designs are based on the Chorley homes technology – so I hope the comments made by CarbonLimited are taken into account.

I was surprised to hear that carbon footprints are not an issue, with no focus on reducing carbons in the construction or production of the development. So does this mean business as usual for the house builder – other than integrating a different kit of eco -materials and technologies? If so – is this a greenwash sin?

My biggest moan to the Hanham Hall team though – and a pet hate of the internet is … advertised websites that are Continue reading

what these blogs are for …

An excellent, must read post from Mark Brinkley  – Is the prince igniting a civil war?  – guest blogging on Phils Zero Champion blog  – sets the scene for a roundhead v cavaliers schism on zero carbon homes, code level 6 and all that …..