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By : Colin Porteous, Rosalie Menon

Taking its cue from the UK government's declaration that every new home should be 'zero-carbon' by 2016, this paper explores how close a flexible, prototype-housing model might come to meeting this target (accepting that there is currently some ambiguity between the respective official 'zero-carbon' definitions regarding off-site renewable supply). The prime aim is to design economically (affordable by housing associations) to the European 'passive house' standard of no more than 15 kWh/m2 for space heating and a maximum total consumption of 70 kWh/m2 adding in hot water and electricity. The model also prioritizes generous access to sunlight and daylight, as well as realistic levels air change in a low-volume, intensively occupied scenario. Associated aims are: a) to meet thermal loads without use of fossil fuels such as gas or oil; and b) to employ architecturally integrated active solar thermal and electrical arrays to respectively meet at least one third of the water heating and electrical loads. Micro-wind generation is excluded from the study as too site-dependent. A subsidiary agenda is to achieve a flexible plan in terms of orientation and access, and to provide utility facilities that support the environmental strategy (e.g. drying clothes without compromising energy use or air quality). The paper goes on to address equivalent prospects for retrofit, briefly discusses institutional and other barriers to achievement, and muses on how much of the balance of the electrical demand can be met renewably in Scotland in the near future.
Keywords : Zero-Carbon, Carbon-Neutral, New-Build Housing, Retrofit Housing.

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