A Beginner’s Guide to Carbon Neutral Homes

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All over the world, people and businesses alike are exploring ways to reduce their carbon footprint, and carbon neutral homes are no exception.

With climate change in sharp focus and energy bills on the rise, there’s never been a better time to build or convert properties into eco homes, and reduce the emissions burden of a house to zero.

This blog explores exactly what makes a home carbon neutral, the key features and technologies involved, and how to ensure your carbon neutral home project starts on the front foot.

What are carbon neutral homes?

Put simply, a carbon neutral home is one that has no carbon footprint on the environment.

This can be achieved in two ways: either the carbon emissions that the house generates are offset in other ways, or the house is ‘zero carbon’, meaning that it doesn’t produce any carbon emissions at all.

Given that buildings (both residential and commercial) account for nearly 40% of global CO2 emissions derived from energy, making homes carbon neutral can make a major difference in the fight against climate change.

What are the common features of carbon neutral homes?

There are many contributing factors within carbon neutral homes, some of which apply to new-build constructions and others that apply to retrofitting existing properties. These include:

  • Insulation and airtightness: high-quality insulation, thick triple-glazing and green roofs, following similar principles to a passive house.
  • Orientation: locating windows on the north and south sides to maximise heat in the winter and reduce it in summer.
  • Sustainable energy: all-electric energy provision, generated by solar, wind or other renewable sources. This can also include using ground-source heat pumps for heating and cooling, and batteries for intelligent energy storage.
  • Sustainable materials: use of natural or recycled materials wherever possible, sourced locally to reduce the emissions of transporting them to site.

What is embodied carbon and why should it matter?

Embodied carbon is defined as all the carbon dioxide emitted in the manufacture and production of materials. This not only includes the processing of raw materials into construction-ready form, but also the energy needed to extract those raw materials and transport them.

Taking this into consideration is vital when trying to create a wholly carbon neutral home. For example, a house that is self-sufficient in energy may appear carbon neutral. But how accurate is this claim when it’s made from exotic materials that have been shipped in from all over the world?

When existing buildings are retrofitted to be carbon neutral, these embodied carbon emissions are often overlooked. Instead, the carbon footprint is measured on a before-and-after basis, and in overall emissions terms.

This can be misleading. If your objectives are to reduce the net environmental impact of your home, it’s certainly something to watch out for.

In summary

When it comes to carbon neutral homes, it’s clear that the materials used in construction are just as important as the energy saving and consumption once it’s built.

At Buildsmith Solutions, we take aspirations back to the brief to develop eco home projects that are truly carbon neutral in every possible way.

To find out more about how we can help you and the planet get the best from your build, head over to our carbon neutral homes page today.

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