Zero Net Carbon Homes

A zero net carbon home combines an energy efficient building design and fixed appliances with a solar energy system to help reduce running costs, increase comfort and curb carbon emissions.

It is designed to produce enough renewable energy to off-set the annual greenhouse gas emissions of its estimated energy use.

We have been running the Zero Net Carbon Homes pilot program to develop sustainably-designed residential homes in Victoria and provide technical and marketing expertise to builders to facilitate the development, marketing and sales of such homes.

Register to get updates about our Zero Net Carbon Homes program.

Benefits of a zero net carbon home

Lower home energy bills

Our modelling indicates that compared with a new 6 star NatHERS rated home built in Melbourne, a home that meets the Zero Net Carbon Homes program standard reduces the energy bills by 60–70% depending on occupant numbers and behaviour as well as the size of the home.

Increased comfort and quality

Zero net carbon homes produce comfortable internal temperatures and are warm in winter and cool in summer.

Higher levels of insulation and draught proofing improves ‘air tightness’ resulting in lower heating and cooling requirements and less discomfort. An as-built verification test is conducted that includes insulation integrity checks and air leakage detection to ensure the home performs as designed.

Reduce carbon emissions produced by the home

Building a zero net carbon home can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by five to eight and a half tonnes per year, when compared to a home built to meet current industry standards.

Improved well-being

Comfortable and consistent internal temperatures protect occupants from the external temperatures and can improve health outcomes, according to the World Health Organisation’s housing and health guidelines.

How to build a zero net carbon home

In order to build a zero net carbon home, home builders will need to complete zero net carbon home design modelling and an as-built verification assessment.

Design modelling

Zero net carbon design modelling consists of two steps:

Step one

Deliver a Nationwide House Energy Rating System (NatHERs) report that achieves a 6.5 star energy rating or above (The current National Construction Code requirement is 6 stars). This needs to be delivered using the FirstRate5® energy rating software.

Delivering a NatHERS report is a standard requirement for all new homes in Australia.

Step two

Calculate the energy use of the home’s fixed appliances using the purpose-built zero net carbon design tool.

This tool is currently being developed as part of the Zero Net Carbon Homes pilot program and will be made available to industry in early 2020.

The tool assesses the energy use of the home’s fixed appliances to calculate the specific size and orientation of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system that will off-set the home’s energy use. The modelling is based on the energy used by four people over 24 hours.

As-built verification

An as-built verification (ABV) assessment is a quality assurance test.

The test:

  • evaluates the energy efficiency of a home after it is built
  • ensures the home meets a zero net carbon standard.

It involves an independent evaluator visiting a home and rating the home’s air tightness and insulation integrity.

Evaluators perform blower door tests, using fans to simulate wind blowing against the building’s exterior to identify air leakages in the building’s envelope.

Thermal imaging is used in conjunction with blower door testing to locate missing or poorly installed insulation that may result in the movement of heat/cool into and out of the building.

Common features of a zero net carbon home

The make-up of the final features can vary as long as they contribute to meeting the zero net carbon homes standard.

Insulation

Correctly installed, high-quality insulation will significantly reduce the amount of energy needed to maintain a comfortable temperature inside a home regardless of the weather outside.

The level of insulation performance is measured by the R-value. Insulation in some zero net carbon homes may have a higher R-value to meet higher NatHERS star requirements. This makes homes more resistant to heat losses and gains through ceilings and walls.

Double glazed windows

Double glazed windows can reduce winter heat loss by up to 70 per cent, according to the Energy Smart Housing Manual.

Double glazed windows have a sealed air space in between glazing layers that act like insulation and reduce the amount of heat entering or leaving the home. Double glazed windows also reduce noise pollution from outside the home.

Energy efficient fixed appliances

Heating and cooling accounts for around 60 per cent of overall household energy use, according to the Residential Baseline Study for Australia 2000–2030 (2015).

Zero net carbon homes require heating, cooling and water-heating appliances to be highly energy efficient. Induction cook-tops and solar hot water pumps are good choices as they greatly reduce energy use and remove the requirement for gas.

Physical orientation

Building orientation determines how much free heating from the sun a home receives in winter and how much it keeps out in summer, which means the potential for lower energy usage and increased comfort. Living areas that face north benefit from winter sunshine and provide free heating, reducing reliance on mechanical systems.

Solar panels

Each home has solar array on the roof which has been calculated to cover the operational energy use for the home. Most homes will typically have between 3.5 to 6kW installed on the roof, so that net exports and imports of energy are equivalent to each other.

LED lighting

Light emitting diode (LED) lighting is the premium efficiency lighting option and the most suitable for zero net carbon homes.

Draught proofing

Draught proofing is a very important feature of a zero net carbon home, as it helps keep the home air tight. Care should be taken around gaps between windows, walls or floors and skirting boards, between floorboards, where pipes penetrate walls and around skylights.

Visit our zero net carbon display homes

We are working with SJD Homes, Metricon Homes and Stockland as part of a funded program to design, build and market zero net carbon homes. Currently we have three zero net carbon display homes open to the public.

SJD Homes display home

 Timbertop estate
Newark Place
Officer, Victoria

Design: Zenith 274 – Z Range

Open 12pm to 5pm, seven days a week

Find out more

SJD has also sold an additional 27 homes off the plans. These homes are currently in the design and construction phases.

Metricon Homes display home

 Kaduna Park estate
4 Mortlake Drive
Officer South, Victoria

Design: Delta 29MR

Open 11am to 5pm, seven days a week

Find out more

Metricon opened their first zero net carbon display home on Sunday 15 September 2019.

Stockland display homes – coming soon

 Orion estate
Braybrook, Victoria

 Highlands estate
Craigieburn, Victoria

Stockland, together with VCon Homes and Creation Homes, is currently completing the design and construction phases of their display homes. Completion expected early 2020.

Learn more about Stockland’s Sustainability Strategy.

About the program

 We are funding a pilot program to develop and market zero net carbon residential homes in Victoria in collaboration with volume home builders, to support the Victorian Government’s Energy Efficiency and Productivity Strategy.

The program is designed to provide technical and marketing expertise to builders to facilitate the development, marketing and sales of sustainably designed zero net carbon residential homes.

In October 2018, we announced the successful builders working with the program: Metricon Homes, Stockland and SJD Homes in partnership with Parklea Developments.

The objectives of the program are to:

  • improve the supply of zero net carbon homes by volume home builders
  • increase consumer demand for zero net carbon homes
  • pilot as-built verification methodologies, standards and skills development through a collaborative approach with industry.

The zero net carbon homes in this pilot is based on operational energy emissions for new Class 1a residential homes exclusively and does not include embodied energy of building materials, waste or the use of water.

Resources

Home construction

Consumer research

Energy efficiency

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Contact us

Zero Net Carbon Homes team
Sustainability Victoria
1300 363 744
zeronetcarbonhomes@sustainability.vic.gov.au