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Carbon neutral vs net-zero homes

Nowadays, builders are working towards a more eco-conscious approach to house building. With this, comes new styles of housing that focus on reducing carbon emissions, which include carbon neutral homes and net zero properties. But what are they and how do they differ?

As well as offering a full range of homes, our mission is to help you understand the different homes available to you. In this article, you’ll discover the difference between carbon neutral and net zero homes, to purchase the property of your dreams knowing exactly what it entails.

Why are net zero and carbon neutral homes important?

As time moves on, we need to be more aware of the different processes to tackle and prevent climate change, alongside global warming. And both carbon neutral and net zero homes allow you to do this with ease. But what do both involve? And when we discuss carbon neutral vs net zero homes, how do they differ?

Carbon neutrality vs net-zero homes

Both carbon neutral and net zero homes are built with one aim in mind: to reduce and remove harmful emissions from the atmosphere. It’s all about building a home that is built to last and constructing it in a way that contributes positively to the environment. Although, the levels of removing these emissions differ between the two.

So, what’s the difference between net zero and carbon neutral homes?

Net zero relates to the total amount of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) that are essentially removed from the atmosphere to equal the gases emitted by everyday human activity. But what are greenhouse gases exactly? Well, these refer to the likes of:

  • Methane (CH4)
  • Sulphur dioxide (SO2)
  • Nitrous oxide (N2O)
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2).

Net zero homes have a larger, expanded scale than carbon neutral because to achieve net zero homes, there’s a lot more to the process than removing carbon emissions, but all of the above greenhouse gases.

Whereas carbon neutrality refers to offsetting residual emissions, it offers a much wider definition, including the likes of avoidance activities. Simply speaking, carbon-neutral homes are less strict concerning emissions, with wider value chain emissions being hugely encouraged, although they are not mandatory.

Net zero housing explained

Net zero housing is about removing more carbon from the environment than it produces. This includes:


  • Embodied carbon – Carbon that’s associated with the building of the property.
  • Operational carbon – Carbon that’s linked with using the housing or living inside that property.

The advantages of net zero carbon housing

There are many advantages of net zero housing, such as:

- Being great for the environment, directly helping with regards to the wider decarbonisation of the economy.

 - Net zero homes should be cheaper to run, as they should be using as little energy as possible, amounting to lower bills.

 - Clean energy is produced from these building types.

 - Net zero properties usually require less maintenance overall.

 - These homes don’t use a large amount of electricity.

The disadvantages of net zero housing

Like anything building type, some disadvantages come with net zero housing:

 - Net zero homes are typically more expensive to build, compared with a property that isn’t constructed with net-zero standards, as a good amount of equipment will be required to save you more money in the future.

 - Net zero homes use less electricity and also emit fewer greenhouse gases, although they don’t remove them completely since fossil fuels are required to generate some emissions.

- There’s currently not as much knowledge from net zero builders as is required - training needs to be offered to these workforces, since these homes becoming more and more popular.

-  Repairs for new parts can be costly.

Carbon neutral housing explained

Carbon neutral housing refers to homes that don’t add to the world’s global emissions, being built with specific functions to stop excess carbon dioxide being emitted, and are designed to do the same when you start living in it. Although, these property types don’t necessarily emit no carbon – instead, it refers to these emissions being more balanced.

Essentially, carbon sinks – which include oceans and forests - store and absorb more carbon from the atmosphere than they emit. So, ensuring the health of these carbon sinks is maintained is crucial. Investing in processes to upkeep this is called “offsetting”, which housing companies like Strata can incorporate to balance out their emissions. 

The advantages of carbon-neutral homes

These are the many advantages that carbon neutral properties bring:

 - Reduce environmental pollution, which improves the health of people, animals and the environment as a whole.

 - Achieving carbon neutrality for home construction allows builders to save on costs, and homeowners also see these benefits.

 - Tax reductions can be considered, and people/businesses can truly benefit in the future.

 - Gradually reduces the impact of climate change.

 - Worldwide construction needs to lessen its emissions by 6% each year, and carbon-neutral homes can contribute to making this a reality.

 - Carbon-neutral homes offset emissions avoidance activities.

The disadvantages of carbon-neutral homes

 - Carbon-neutral homes aren’t as common as they should be right now, which can come with its own problems – although this is predicted to change.

 - The UK government and governments around the world need to prioritise carbon-neutral homes, concerning new (and updated) laws and legislation.

 - A lot of companies choose (and aim) to cut down on their CO2 emissions to start with, instead of investing in major offset programmes.

So, you can see the difference between net zero and carbon-neutral homes much more easily now. And if you ever need to refer back to what both entail and the different pros and cons of each, you can revisit this helpful article!

Explore more housing insights

Now you’re aware of the difference between carbon-neutral net zero, you’ll be interested in discovering more about these housing types. For more insights into the likes of eco-friendly homes, and zero-carbon homes, visit our home-buying advice hub.