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Provocation – Towards zero carbon in building design

Posted in Models by fedwards on July 1st, 2008

Please find an abstract below from an interesting article which discusses some of the issues involved in going for zero carbon emissions in building design. The full article can be viewed at

Abstract: “Whole-house thinking”, Dr. David Strong, The Ecologist, 20/06/2008
“What’s the point of zero-carbon homes that aren’t fit for habitation? There is more to sustainable building than meeting Government targets, argues Dr David Strong

The UK Government has declared a laudable and ambitious plan to ensure all our new homes are zero carbon by 2016 and new non-domestic buildings zero carbon by 2019. The impact of this plan has been felt throughout the property and construction industry, and the drive towards zero-carbon has already had a powerful effect in galvanising the house-building and property development community, and in stimulating innovation. I am not sure that would have happened without such a strong legislative and policy initiative.

Of course the huge surge in interest in sustainable building is good news. After 35 years working in the industry, it is highly gratifying to see sustainability finally reaching the top of the political, planning and construction agenda. The emphasis being put by the Government on more energy-efficient buildings, and greener communities generally, is a truly welcome and encouraging sign.

However, those of us who are passionate about delivering a genuinely sustainable built environment currently face a real dilemma.

Here’s our problem: there is so much more to delivering exemplary built environments than zero carbon. In fact, there is even a danger that a fixation on zero carbon may result in highly perverse outcomes and deliver seriously damaging and unintended consequences in terms of sustainability – with the pursuit of the ‘best’ becoming the enemy of the good.”

The full article can be viewed at

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