A term often heard, but of rarely understood, just what does it mean?
“within ten years every new home will be a zero-carbon home“
Gordon Brown, then Chancellor, in pre-budget report 2006.
When asked for further clarification, a zero-carbon home was defined as one that does not contribute to global warming – hardly a precise definition.
The zero carbon building produces no Carbon Dioxide and by combining all the available innovations can actually export carbon free energy back into the electricity grid.
Definitions can tend to ignore the CO2 emissions related to the sourcing of materials and the construction of the fabric of a building and in the initial provision of services and supporting infrastructure. A genuinely zero carbon building must be able to payback the carbon invested in its construction through generating and exporting zero carbon energy back into the national grid.
So where does that leave us. Personally, I am happy to use the catch-all zero carbon as an umbrella term incorporating both practical, real world low carbon design and an aspiration toward a truly zero carbon building lifecycle.
A zero carbon house is one that maintains ongoing CO2 emissions as near to zero as possible. The zero is currently aspirational.
Is the negative carbon house somewhere around the corner?