The release of new sustainable building definitions promise to clarify basic industry terminology and help eliminate confusion. The report ‘Defining Zero Emission Buildings – Review and Recommendations’ as released by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC), offers to “deliver a common language for low energy and zero carbon homes”.
The basis of the recommendation is to create “a suitable definition that could be used in Australia to support consistent communication about low impact building and potentially as a basis for future building regulation or voluntary initiative” the report reads.
The report focuses on the very real issue of information inundation. With the residential sector taking up almost 10% of Australia’s total carbon emissions, offering plain language guidelines to the average Australian household is a definitive response moving toward 2020 low energy emitting goals.
It is also important to keep in mind that in a complete greenwash, terms are thrown around with little distinction such as near-zero energy, passive house, zero net energy, zero carbon and carbon neutral, all of which may seem like the exact same idea, but each coming with varying elements and guidelines.
Identified terminology for definition review include:
- Life cycle boundary
- Assessment methods and metrics
- Grid Connection
- Sectoral differences
- Building Type
- Spatial Boundary
- Allowable emission reduction options
- Conditional requirements
Image Source: Energy for Sustainable Development
Each of these and their relating parts will be refined in their association to zero emissions buildings, in order to create a system that is easily definable and additionally creating spaces that reach these highly distinguishable standards.
“It is vital that we are all speaking the same language and using the same terminology to ensure that expectations are met, particularly if we are to be measuring and reporting accurately and consistently across government, industry and the consumer market” says Tom Roper, ASBEC’s Chair.
With a move to create holistic sustainable communities that rely on off grid energy, the promotion of up to standard, easy to understand zero and low emission housing is going to become increasingly important.
In certain parts of both the industry and society the idea of a zero emission home is akin to an earthshipor comparably modern and stereotypically green building. This lack of knowledge creates limitations, an illusion of green being ugly or restrictive, which is simply not the case. Having clear guidelines creates design freedom, whereby an understanding of what seem like complicated processes in fact become simple environmentally responsible tools.
With the guidelines newly released, the industry will surely see a surge in the construction of zero carbon buildings.