design energy sustainability

The falling costs of zero carbon homes

From 2016 all new homes built in Britain will be zero carbon. It’s one of those targets that struck fear into some when it was announced, because the additional costs to build to zero carbon standard added tens of thousands of pounds to the bill. It could add £15,000 to a flat, and £40,000 to a detached home. Those sorts of costs would have had a dramatic impact on the housing market, and on the profitability of new developments.

But a lot has happened since zero carbon homes were announced in 2006. The target has stimulated research and innovation, and the costs have tumbled. The latest costs projections suggest it will cost just £6,700-£7,500 extra to build a semi-detached house to zero carbon standard, less than a quarter of the cost a decade ago. For an apartment the extra cost is just £2,200 – £2,400, and these costs are expected to fall further.

Now, part of the reason for this fall in costs is that the definition of ‘zero carbon’ has been refined and homes from 2016 won’t be exactly zero carbon. But they will be a whole lot better than current standards, and those buying new homes from 2016 can expect far lower energy bills.

Here’s a comparison of energy spend between a Victorian house, a 2013 regulations new build, and the 2016 standard:




  1. As these techologies mature and economies of scale are acheived,costs will go down. Years ago airbags in cars seemed prohibitively expensive. Now every car has them and you can buy a Camry for under US$20K.

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