How can UK Housing Projects be Brought in Line With Net-zero Carbon Emission Targets?
Numerous local authorities are committed to constructing buildings to net-zero carbon emissions performance, and have declared carbon emergency, striving to reach carbon neutrality well before 2050. However, buildings are currently being designed and constructed to current building regulations which do not require buildings to be net-zero, and these buildings will last well beyond 2050. This paper presents a case study of a housing development in Hertfordshire, UK, where a structured approach for achieving net-zero carbon performance homes was analysed. The approach is comprised of developing dynamic simulation models in IES-VE (IES, 2021) to investigate the improvement in energy performance of the development through a fabric-first approach to achieve net-zero carbon performance. Carbon emissions (operational and embodied) were investigated to assess the appropriateness of the deployed strategies. Dynamic simulation results illustrate that, by combining embodied and operational emissions, a net-zero carbon performance is achievable by the 2050 target if alternative retrofit methods which use photosynthetic bio-composite materials are used. This experiment also highlights the limitations of conventional retrofit methods as they resulted in increased embodied carbon emissions, thus lengthening the time period well beyond the 2050 target for achieving net-zero carbon performance.