Eco Homes Guide
In this blog post we explore the topic of eco homes; defining what an eco home is; explaining the global, legislative, and regulatory context for eco homes in the UK; comparing various voluntary sustainable building standards; and outlining the key principles of the design and construction of eco homes.
What is a eco home?
The term ‘Eco Home’ is a broad term that is generally used to describe a high-performance home that is designed and constructed in such a way that it has a low impact on the environment, has low running costs, and provides a comfortable internal environment to live in. Other terms such as ‘sustainable homes’ and ‘green homes’ are effectively synonyms that are used interchangeably.
The legislative and regulatory context for eco homes
Before describing the key principles of eco home design and construction, it is important to understand the context within which these principles came about and were developed. At a global scale, a growing consensus over recent decades regarding the threat posed by the greenhouse effect lead to various international environmental treaties focused on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The UK, as a signatory of these treaties, has legislated to regulate various sources of emissions, including buildings generally and homes specifically through the BUILDING REGULATIONS. As a member of the European Union up until the end 2019, the UK has also had to comply with EU directives relating to greenhouse gas emissions and the energy efficiency of buildings, and has therefore legislated accordingly. PART L (conservation of fuel and power) is the part of the BUILDING REGULATIONS that deals with the energy efficiency of buildings, and since the first edition was published in 1985 there have been numerous updates, many resulting in order to comply with various updates to international treaties and European law. The below timeline lists these treaties and other key events and pieces of legislations.
- 1965 – THE BUILDING ACT (1965) introduced the first national set of BUILDING REGULATIONS for England and Wales.
- 1964 – THE BUILDING ACT (1984) is the piece of primary legislation upon which the current system of BUILDING REGULATIONS is based.
- 1987 – OUR COMMON FUTURE (1987) report by the BRUNDTLAND COMMISSION gave the first definition for SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.
- 1992 – UNFCCC (1992) international environmental treaty
- 1997 – KYOTO PROTOCOL (1997) international environmental treaty
- 2015 – PARIS AGREEMENT (2015) international environmental treaty