In England, a handful of efficient demonstration homes have been built on the grounds of the Building Research Establishment Ltd, including “The Lighthouse,” which is the first net zero carbon house in the UK. The house is also the first to attain level six in the Code for Sustainable Homes, which indicates that it is carbon neutral. The two-bedroom house is only 93.3 square meters (barely over 1000 sq. ft.) in a 2-1/2 story building. The building has solar panels and evacuated solar tubes on its roof, as well as making use of passive measures with ventilation chimneys. It also incorporates rainwater catchment as part of the building design.
The materials used include highly insulated, airtight building fabric which has been designed to provide generous daylight levels and includes effective solar control, together with integrated building services based around a platform of renewable and sustainable technologies. These include water efficiency techniques, renewable energy technologies, passive cooling and ventilation, as well as mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR).
A biomass boiler burns fuel pellets (which are considered carbon neutral because the carbon they release is offset by growing the plants that are used to make new fuel). While a typical house of this size would be expected to have an annual energy bill of around 500 pounds, the Lighthouse’s annual energy bill would be roughly 31 pounds.
1. Wind catcher, for summer ventilation
2. Solar array at back of house for hot water and electricity
3. High-level of wall insulation
4. Biomass boiler