Zero Carbon Housing and Zero Energy Housing are terms used interchangeably to define single family dwellings with a very high energy efficiency rating. Zero Energy Housing requires a very low amount of energy to provide the daily needs and functions for the family occupying the home.
A zero carbon home has a yearly net carbon footprint of zero. The carbon footprint is the total measure of all greenhouse gas emissions generated or produced directly or indirectly by activities in the home such as heating the home or running an appliance, personal activities such as driving a car, broader services such as the use of public transportation or air travel, and individual consumption of food and other products. A home’s carbon footprint consists of the sum of two parts, the primary footprint and the secondary footprint, expressed in units of metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). The primary carbon footprint is a measure of the CO2 emissions from the direct consumption of fossil fuels for energy consumption and transportation. The secondary carbon footprint is the measure of indirect CO2 emissions related to the manufacturing process of products used in the home and eventual decomposition of products. Examples of the parts that make up the secondary carbon footprint are the manufacturing of clothes, cars, and furnishings, as well as recreational activities by the inhabitants.