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The role of new builds in achieving net-zero

The role of new builds in achieving net-zero

There is currently a global race to help remove carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to prevent an irreversible climate crisis. One way of avoiding further global warming is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and eventually reach net zero.


The UK government is committed to improving energy efficiency and one of its main focus regions is reducing the carbon emissions of new homes. The government’s Future Homes Standard is set to come into effect in 2025, which will see the carbon emissions of homes cut by 75-80%, but how will this be achieved?


We take a look at some of the ways new home developers are making their properties more environmentally friendly to help achieve net zero.


 

 

Renewable energy sources

One of the largest contributors to carbon emissions is the burning of fossil fuels, which means natural gas boilers are a barrier to the net zero target. While these are now going to be banned in 2035, they are prohibited from being installed in new homes.  


The traditional heating system is instead being replaced by environmentally-friendly technology such as air-source heat pumps. These work by using energy from the outside air to provide the home with hot water and heating, similar to a fridge freezer but in reverse.


While air source heat pumps do require electricity to run, they are typically more efficient than other systems, using only a quarter of the energy of a traditional boiler. And if this electricity comes from renewable sources on the property, such as solar panels, emissions could be eradicated more still.


solar panels
House Roof Solar Panels typical arrangement

Improved insulation methods

It’s all good and well being able to heat our homes efficiently but it’s pointless without being able to retain this heat also. To ensure heat remains inside, developers have found ways to improve the insulation of their homes.


Instead of cavity wall insulation, new build homes now use high-performance insulation in walls and roofs, as well as double or even triple-glazed windows. This prevents heat loss in the winter and keeps the inside cool in the summer, thereby reducing the need for excessive heating and minimising energy usage.


 

 

Environmentally-friendly fixtures

Another way that new build developers are improving energy efficiency in the property is by replacing conventional fixtures with brand-new energy-efficient appliances. As an example, standard lighting is replaced with LED power-saving bulbs, induction hobs are used in favour of gas cookers, and smart thermostats are installed to prevent energy wastage. These fixtures and fittings can often carry higher upfront costs but do save money in the long run.


Additionally, you’ll find developers including ways to conserve water in their homes. This includes features such as low-flow toilets and showerheads, as well as rainwater harvesting that can be used to flush toilets or water plants in the garden.


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