To get an idea of where a UK home builder is at the moment, take a look at The Green Code (pdf, pg.6) of Linden Homes. They were interviewed on BBC radio4 about one of their current housing developments, specifically on how well they are managing to practically get their new build homes down to ‘zero carbon’.
Their representative explained that they were probably 40% there, but were struggling because;
(a) cost is higher but buyers aren’t willing to pay more for low carbon homes.
(b) some technologies do not work well in built up areas (eg. wind turbines).
(c) more R&D is needed to make the zero carbon home more realistic.
An Energy Savings Trust (EST) representative on the radio programme didn’t disagree that the ‘zero carbon’ home is an ambitious project. He believes more needs to be done to help existing homes lower their carbon footprint as new build only makes up 1% of housing stock in any given year. Better insulation is key, with cavity and loft insulation and double or even triple glazing useful as well.
The annual Ecobuild Show is now on in London. Plenty to look at on their site too.