Nearly one-third of the Scottish population is struggling to heat their home properly today. There is an urgent need for the delivery of low-energy affordable homes. However, the homebuilding industry has no systematic way to deliver such unconventional homes, although the UK government has set out a bold “green” target that all newly-built homes be carbon neutral by 2016. Accordingly, this paper explores the status quo of today's affordable homes being built in Scotland; and secondly, it extends the scope to the review of successfully commercialized low- to zero-energy affordable housing developments in Canada. This study emphasizes the significant impact of design choices on the delivery of low- to zero-energy affordable housing, including housing orientations and configurations; construction materials and systems, including renewable energy technologies; and internal planning, with due consideration to the time-related sun positions and the internal space day-lighting and heat gain potentials. In addition, the paper argues that the absence of clear definitions as to housing quality and affordability, and the lack of industry capacity for technical knowledge learning activities, are potential obstacles that limit the spread of sustainable zero-carbon homes in Scotland today. Moreover, the effect of the design charrette approach being practiced in Canada on the homebuilding decision making process was reviewed, with the aim of providing a base for further discussion on the applicability of Canadian low-energy affordable housing design techniques to sustainable zero carbon homes of the future in Scotland.

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