Zero carbon buildings—law and policy

The following Environment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Zero carbon buildings—law and policy
  • What is a zero carbon building?
  • Zero carbon targets for buildings
  • Targets for new buildings in England
  • Cancellation of zero carbon homes policy
  • Code for Sustainable Homes scrapped
  • London keeps zero homes target
  • EU commitment
  • Targets for existing buildings in England
  • Policy in Wales
  • More...

Zero carbon buildings—law and policy

What is a zero carbon building?

In simple terms, a zero carbon building means that all net carbon emissions from energy use in the building (eg for heating, lighting and hot water) are zero over a twelve month period. In practice, guidelines and standards are required to define how zero carbon is calculated, and what materials and measures are eligible for improving energy efficiency. There is no international standard on zero carbon.

Achieving zero carbon requires:

  1. the fabric of a building to have high levels of energy efficiency; and

  2. energy used in the building to come from renewable sources

The EU introduced a similar term ‘nearly zero-energy building’ which is defined in article 2(2) of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive 2010/31/EU. See section: Nearly zero energy buildings in this Practice Note.

UK Green Building Council

In February 2019, the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) invited feedback from businesses and stakeholders on a proposed definition for net zero carbon buildings in the UK. The consultation document outlined the initial proposals from the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Task Group. The Net Zero Carbon Buildings Task Group is responsible for developing a framework definition of net zero carbon buildings in line with the ambitions of the Paris Climate Agreement. See: LNB News 06/02/2019 118.

For more information on the Paris Climate Agreement, see: The Paris Agreement 2015—snapshot.

In April

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