Carbon Compliance Target

What Is Carbon Compliance?

The Carbon Compliance limit is the maximum permitted amount of CO2 (and other greenhouse gases expressed as equivalents) arising from a home’s heating, cooling, hot water use, lighting and ventilation systems. 

Essentially, this can be achieved by:

  • Ensuring an energy efficient approach to building design
  • Reducing CO2 emissions on-site through low and zero carbon technologies

The Carbon Compliance Limit is expressed in kgCO2(eq)/m2/year to provide a clear link with Government’s carbon reduction strategy, and it can be met by use of a wide range of heating/fuel types.

Recommended Carbon Compliance levels

Extensive work on Carbon Compliance was carried out in 2010 by Zero Carbon Hub led Task and Working Groups with members drawn from the house building and supply industries, related trade associations, consumer representatives and bodies with a specific interest in environmental objectives.

During the work, factors that had a bearing on setting Carbon Compliance were considered in three broad areas:

  • Technical – what is feasible with current technology and not dependent on site specific considerations
  • Commercial – what are the cost and benefits and their sensitivities to different Carbon Compliance levels
  • Policy – how Carbon Compliance contributes to, or is constrained by, other policies and external factors.

Proposals for Carbon Compliance levels were published in 2011 and represent a challenging but deliverable national minimum standard. Recommended levels are:

  • 10 kg CO2(eq)/m2/year for detached houses
  • 11 kg CO2(eq)/m2/year for attached houses
  • 14 kg CO2(eq)/m2/year for low rise apartment blocks (up to 4 storeys)


In the home, the most significant use of regulated energy is currently for space and water heating, supply of which can be gained from a variety of sources. However, tightening the requirement for Carbon Compliance makes it increasingly difficult to achieve the level through low and zero carbon heat generation alone. Electricity generation may also be needed, for which a smaller range of options exist, PV being the most mainstream technology currently usable for a variety of individual dwelling types and locations. It is for this reason that to set recommendations for the level of Carbon Compliance, feasibility was assessed by reference to the amount of PV required - taking this as a proxy for all low and zero carbon electricity generating technologies.

The chart below shows some of the analysis and technical modelling work carried out during the process.  

Further details and background to the Carbon Compliance recommendations can be found in the supporting documentation:


Carbon Compliance - Setting an Appropriate Limit for Zero Carbon New Homes - Findings and Recommendations

The carbon compliance tool is the means by which we will calculate the energy and carbon performance of new homes and is a fundamental part of zero carbon homes delivery. A forward-looking review was carried out in 2010 and details the findings of an expert Task Group which considered whether the existing carbon compliance tool is appropriate for low energy/zero carbon homes. Details of the considerations and findings can be found in the Current Topics and Debates section under Carbon Compliance Modelling Tool.

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