Accelerating Net-Zero Housing at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

Project: Research

Project Details


The Borough of Welwyn and Hatfield encompasses the towns of Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield; new towns developed extensively in the 1940’s. The housing from this wave is now over 70 years old and developed without the knowledge of sustainable construction with some localities in need of re-development. The areas have excellent transport links to London with growing populations and pressure to build extensively over the next 10-20 years.

Welwyn and Hatfield Borough Council planning department is the key link between building development stakeholders. Although, the government has set a target for net-zero in 2050 the council do not have suitable tools to determine which housing designs are sustainable and net-zero planning considerations remain a challenge, so that despite the legal requirement to reduce UK carbon emissions to zero by 2050, housing at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council is constructed to current building regulations which do not require them to be net-zero, and these buildings will last well beyond 2050.

Members of the Zero Carbon Lab at the University of Hertfordshire (UH) have developed and published structured methods for achieving net-zero design and retrofit of buildings, however the use of this information requires significant technical expertise and expert design tools, and is therefore not easily accessible to local councils to fulfil their needs for net-zero housing.

In order to overcome this barrier to net-zero housing, Zero Carbon Lab will apply its technical expertise to a series of future pre-set housing designs at WHBC. A web-based tool will be developed to enable the Council Housing Department to choose a pre-set design through a series of dropdown menus, choosing materials, performance characteristics, heating and renewable energy systems in order to achieve net-zero house design. The tool will enable the Council to combine different pre-sets of individual houses into net-zero housing estates, combining individual renewable energy systems into community energy schemes.

This unique collaboration between university net-zero methodology and council housing will be a test-bed which could be developed across other stakeholders and councils across the country.

Layman's description

A project between Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and University of Hertfordshire to transfer specific design methodology to housing schemes to maximise net-zero outcomes. In addition to reducing carbon emissions and costs, the project will ensure better thermal comfort and quality of life for housing occupants and irradiation of fuel poverty.

Key findings

The project will be in progress until 30th June 2022. Hence key findings are not yet available.
Effective start/end date1/11/2130/06/22


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