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Wales to Build 20,000 Low-Carbon 'Social Homes'

The dwellers could even sell the grid surplus electricity they get from solar panels on top of their houses.

Wales to Build 20,000 Low-Carbon 'Social Homes'
Wales plans to build sustainable homes Teka77/iStock

The Paris Agreement of 2015 sets a goal for countries to reduce their carbon emissions to zero by 2050. While individual companies have pledged their support to this aim, the task for countries is much harder. Wales is now showing one way to do so, as it plans to build low-carbon housing in a bid to arrest its carbon emissions, a  government press release said. 

Achieving the ambitious goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 needs a lot of innovation as well. While countries work to put in place policies that promote sustainable living through the use of electric transportation and shifting to renewable sources for energy generation, progress has been slow. A UN report suggests that at the current rate of commitments to reducing emissions, we are likely to see only one percent drop by 2030, urging more action from participating countries. 

On its part, the Welsh Government tried to identify areas of decarbonization and found that apart from industries and vehicles, housing is also a major contributor to its total emissions. It commissioned a report from Cardiff University on ways to decarbonize homes between 2020 and 2050. Its plan to build 20,000 low-carbon social homes is part of the grander scheme to reduce emissions that includes financial incentives as well as changes to building and housing standards. 

With this, the government also aims to address local concerns of low availability of housing while also creating new opportunities for training and jobs. The government plans to spend £250 million (US$348 million) on renting low-carbon social housing in this financial year. Built with new environmental standards, these houses feature innovations such as exhaust air heat pumps integrated with mechanical ventilation, allowing homes to function without heating even on cold days, according to one resident.

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The houses are powered by large photovoltaic roof systems that store generated energy in Tesla's batteries and an app lets users control heating, even when they are not at home, said another resident. 

Further details of the homes are expected to come later in the month, the government has claimed that they expect houses to go beyond net-zero and provide electricity to the grid, something that current residents are already experiencing, according to a press release

While these are bold steps, they are still small to mitigate the dangers of climate change. We need to work quickly and scale up from sustainable homes to sustainable cities, and beyond. 

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