Eco-friendly houses are becoming more popular as they leave a smaller carbon footprint and improve energy efficiency.
- Sustainable architecture
- The Green Deal
- The zero-carbon house
- The bioclimatic house
- The passive house
- The carbon-positive house
- Who can build an eco-friendly house?
Britain’s commitment to sustainable and ecological architecture has been established since 1989. The inception of the Association for Environment Conscious Building (AECB) allowed for the promotion and encouragement of private green structures in the UK.
As for the public sector and government policies surrounding sustainable architecture, there are specific building regulations set out by the UK government that define requirements for better insulation and energy efficiency and aim to limit unnecessary expenditures such as carbon emissions.
The UK government has also consistently set goals for itself in terms of lowering carbon emissions and regulating energy efficiency in progressively increasing percentages.
The Green Deal
In addition to these different regulations, the Green Deal was launched in January 2012 for commercial properties and October 2012 for residential properties. It provides low-interest loans for property owners who wish to upgrade their structures and make them more energy-efficient. Any residual debt is passed on to incoming occupants as soon as they start paying the energy bills themselves, as long as they cost less than the savings on the energy-efficient upgrades bill. The Green Deal was put in place to encourage green building and ecologically conscious renovations in British housing.
As it is bound to European laws when it comes to green buildings, there are several European certifications and criteria that structures in the UK must meet to adhere to ecological standards. For instance, in all buildings of over 1,000 square metres, two separate certifications are required:
- The BER (Building Energy Rating) system
- The energy performance certificate
All of this points to a significant ecological transition that is impacting architecture. As a result, eco-construction has given rise to several types of green structures. There are different levels of sustainable architecture and therefore different types of ecological houses.
The zero-carbon house
This is the most common type of green building in the UK. It started as an experimental project and has now experienced an impressive growth rate.
Zero-carbon houses are houses in which CO2 emissions are limited by a combination of different factors:
Space heating and cooling to reach minimum Fabric Energy Efficiency Standards (FEES)
- 39 kWh/m^2 / year for flats and attached houses (houses that share at least 1 wall with another structure)
- 46 kWh/m^2 / year for semi-detached and detached houses (houses that either share 1 or no walls with another structure)
Limiting on-site built emissions by using low carbon technologies and heating solutions
- 10 kg CO2(eq)/m^2 / year for detached houses (houses that don’t share any walls with another structure)
- 11 kg CO2(eq)/m^2 / year for attached houses
- 14 kg CO2(eq)/m^2 /year for flats
Mitigating off-site emissions whenever it’s not possible to use low and zero-carbon technologies on the building site
The bioclimatic house
A bioclimatic house is an ecological construction that works with the environment to improve its energy performance while guaranteeing a good level of daily comfort.
Bioclimatic buildings must be able to capture the sun's energy, which means these houses face the sun to maximise solar gain. Facades typically face south with large openings to maximise the amount of natural heat and light.
The bioclimatic house favours simple shapes such as cubic or rectangular homes. Particular attention is paid to insulation and the elimination of all thermal bridges. High-performance bio-sourced materials are then chosen for their phase shift, i.e. their natural ability to store heat and release it progressively to maintain a continuous temperature in a given room throughout the day.
The passive house
The passive house optimises energy performance even further so that it does not require heating at all. The concept of the passive house is that the heat released inside the building by its inhabitants and its electrical appliances, coupled with the sunshine, are sufficient to meet the heating needs while keeping the inside comfortable and liveable.
This heating only serves to compensate for the heat loss of the building. The passive house, therefore, has all the equipment needed to capture the heat from outside (heat pump, solar panels, etc.) and has perfect insulation and airtightness that do not allow any heat loss.
All thermal bridges are eliminated. A passive house is therefore equipped with controlled ventilation, known as "double-flow" ventilation, to guarantee the quality of the air inside.
The carbon-positive house
The carbon-positive house is the most eco-responsible of all sustainable buildings. It produces more energy than it consumes, and the energy is then sold to a third party.
The UK’s first carbon-positive house was built in Wales and exports more power than it uses. This type of house generates, restores, and stores renewable energy that can be used by its occupants while reducing energy consumption.
It combines solar energy generation with battery storage to make it possible for its inhabitants to normally power their home’s different systems: heating, ventilation, electrical, hot water…
A carbon-positive house will also be built with the reduction of hot air leakage in mind, with high insulation throughout the entire structure.
Who can build an ecological house?
It is imperative to hire an architect specialising in sustainable housing for such projects. Welink Builders can connect you with an architect that will be able to work with the right companies to plan and execute a construction project that will meet the current energy efficiency standards.