Reducing carbon emissions from buildings (both new and existing) is critical to meeting the target of carbon neutrality by 2030, as is making sure greater resilience to the anticipated impacts of climate change.
The Somerset West and Taunton Net Zero Carbon Toolkit helps to communicate what is involved in both delivering new net zero compliant buildings and retrofitting existing buildings in striving towards Net Zero, and make knowledge on these issues more accessible.
The Toolkit is aimed at both building professionals and homeowners and is designed to be relatively accessible and engaging. It sets out best practice approaches to follow in designing, specifying, constructing and fitting out a Net Zero compliant new build or retrofit project. It provides a technical, go-to guide on what to consider in the very early stages of design, how to achieve fabric energy efficiency, what systems to include, where to go for expert advice, and what to consider once you have finished your housing project and you are handing over to occupants.
If you are looking to undertake a new build or retrofit project, we strongly recommend you consider the guidance contained within the Toolkit. Whilst it sets out targets to aspire towards and specific processes that could be followed, it is a guide only. It is important to remember that all properties are different and may still require property-specific advice to be sought from suitable professionals.
The Toolkit complements Climate Positive Planning. It also provides additional guidance to help articulate how some of the design processes within the Districtwide Design Guide Supplementary Planning Document might be executed in order to deliver Net Zero buildings. However, it is aspirational and a guidance and communication tool, rather than a planning or corporate policy position.
Whilst the council does not have planning policies which explicitly require zero carbon building at present, the Toolkit can be a useful resources for officers and members. It can help them understand whether development proposals are being ambitious enough in responding to relevant existing planning policy requirements, and in responding to the Climate Emergency as a material consideration.
The Somerset West and Taunton Net Zero Carbon Toolkit is an adaptation of a toolkit produced by Levitt Bernstein, Elementa, Passivhaus Trust and Etude, commissioned by Cotswold, West Oxfordshire and Forest of Dean councils, and funded by the Local Government Association Housing Advisers Programme, originally published in 2021. The original toolkit and Somerset West and Taunton’s adaptation are published on a Creative Commons Licence which allows for other councils to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, and adapt and build on the work so long as they comply with the terms of the licence. 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.
You can find further information about how the toolkit may be used on page 2 of the document.