Debate 33 - Zero-carbon homes faster, nicer and more sustainable

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008 | Debates

But do we have the skills?

This debate was proposed by Richard Lorch, editor of the referee-ed journal BRI (Building Research and Information) and arises from an article by Banfill and Peacock of Heriot-Watt University in the recent BRI issue on ‘Climate Change: National Building Stocks’.

Zero carbon homes

Zero carbon homes

iAmong other issues, they discuss the ‘admirable aspiration’ of delivering zero-carbon homes by 2016 but argue for radical action since:

” … In short, the proposals would require wholesale change to the current practices, supply chain and methodologies used in the volume house construction industry. Wholesale change in construction practice is not without precedent and in the past has been driven by, for example, the changing availability of materials, but the speed of change required in this case would be unprecedented.” (p 434)

The authors conclude:

” … as it reaches for sustainability, the UK runs a real risk of falling over.”

Debating these issues in refereed journals is helpful and John Callcutt has reported that it should be do-able. However the Edge is not convinced that the industry has the skills to meet the present regulations, let alone the emerging aspirations and tomorrow’s regulations for greater quality at zero carbon and in much greater numbers.

The Edge is concerned that our training is inadequate whether as client, designer or constructor.

House Builder: Joe Isle

Director of Strategic Development, Taylor Wimpey

Researcher: Prof. Phil Banfill

Heriot-Watt University

Designer: Andy von Bradsky

Chairman of PRP Architects

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