How to achieve net zero carbon homes

Funded through the Local Government Association (LGA) Housing Advisers Programme, the guide has been produced by leading technical experts from Etude, the Passivhaus Trust, Levitt Bernstein and Elementa Consulting.

Who is the Toolkit for?

Pulling on latest guidance and best practice, the Net Zero Carbon Toolkit is a practical, easy to follow guide to help plan a net zero housing project.

Aimed at small or medium-sized house builders, architects, self-builders and consultants, the toolkit covers a range of steps – from pre-planning right through to construction – for delivering net-zero carbon, low-energy homes.

The toolkit also provides homeowners looking to retrofit or extend their existing property, guidance and advice on what they need to consider and how they can implement energy efficiency measures and begin the process of decarbonising their homes in a more affordable, phased approach.

Implementing the measures laid out in the new toolkit will help reduce the carbon footprint of new and existing buildings. Making significant reductions to a home’s carbon emissions also means lower energy bills for homeowners, more people out of fuel poverty and homes that are comfortable and healthier to live in.

How can others use the Toolkit?

West Oxfordshire District Council and its two partner councils share an ambition that net zero should be the standard for all new housing and retrofit projects in their districts.

Achieving the UK’s legally binding net zero target is no small task and it is acknowledged that reaching this goal requires organisations to work together, share experiences and build on best practice.

To help others reach net zero and to speed up the UK’s collective response to the climate emergency, the Net Zero Carbon Toolkit is openly available as a resource for private and public sector organisations to use and adopt. Further information about how the toolkit may be used is listed on page 2 of the document. 

Authors: Etude, Passivhaus TrustLevitt Bernstein and Elementa Consulting.

Publication date: July 2021



Easi Guide to Passivhaus design

Levitt Bernstein, alongside sustainability engineers Etude, have campaigned tirelessly for faster change in the built environment to achieve zero carbon. But they have found that often the best way to effect change is to collaborate with others, lead by example and share learning along the way.

They believe that the first step to zero carbon is to create an ultra-efficient building design. Through their project work with Etude, they have discovered that the benefits of low energy design can be unlocked by viewing Passivhaus considerations as an opportunity, rather than a constraint.

This led them to develop the ‘Easi Guide to Passivhaus design’, which has been endorsed by the Passivhaus Trust.

The guide graphically sets out ten simple principles that form the foundations of good Passivhaus and zero carbon design. They encourage clients to use it to set their briefs and architects to use it when designing their buildings. The main body of the guide emphasises key considerations at RIBA Stage 2 to allow design teams to meet Passivhaus within the contextual needs of their site, while a checklist offers the next steps if full certification is to be pursued.

By providing open access, they hope that you enjoy our guide, make many zero carbon buildings and share your learning with others.

Author: Etude/Levitt Bernstein

Publication date: June 2020


Case Study

Camden Passivhaus

Camden Passivhaus incorporates heat recovery ventilation, extremely good insulation and air-tightness, and high performance glazing to create comfortable and healthy conditions, and minimise energy requirements.

The project reported here is part of the Technology Strategy Board’s Building Performance Evaluation programme and acknowledgement is made of the financial support provided by that programme. Specific results and their interpretation remain the responsibility of the project team.

Author: Good Homes Alliance, Bere Architects, Jason Palmer, UCL, Alan Clarke

Publication date: 2014



Photo credits: Tim Crocker