Useful Projects was approached by Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) to provide advisory support to its Housing Team and inform plans to decarbonise its housing stock.
To start, a policy review was undertaken, looking at relevant international, national and local guidance of policies that support the transition to net zero. Additionally, housing and energy systems best practices were reviewed from both LETI and RIBA 2030. This review went on to recognise that beyond carbon savings, building and retrofitting homes to net zero standards can help address socio-economic inequality and create social value.
The report explores a hierarchy of three different solutions for delivering net zero carbon homes:
- Passive solutions: Achieved through fabric, massing and heat recovery.
- Active solutions: Boilers, hydrogen as well as air source heat pumps.
- Renewable/smart solutions: Solar thermal and photovoltaics as well as batteries and smart solutions.
The report has produced advise for both new and existing buildings. For new buildings, the report proposed targets and design recommendations based on best practice. It has been recommended that CBC’s Housing Team aim for passive house standards as soon as possible, yet it was recognised that specific changes are needed for this, in relation to supply chain and upskilling the workforce. For existing building stock, data on CBC’s existing housing stock was analysed. The analysis considered both a ‘soft retrofit’ and a ‘hard retrofit’ approach backed by engineering solutions. Carbon emission pathways were then modelled for the various options, as has a decision- matrix to assist CBC in making retrofitting decisions. This project forms part of CBC’s plan of becoming carbon neutral council by 2030.