With global warming being blamed for what appear to be more episodes of extreme weather, and an increasing focus on how our lifestyles are damaging the environment, more people are starting to agree that we must change the way we live in order to slow down climate change, and look after the environment .

We hear the phrases ‘living sustainably’, ”eco homes’, ‘zero-carbon cities’, ‘the 2050 emission reduction target’ but what do they mean?

Most people acknowledge that ‘living sustainably’ means different things to different people.  For some it’s about what they eat and where they buy their food.  For others it’s about how they travel, both in their day to day lives, and for leisure.  Then there’s energy, using less, and making sure as much as possible is from renewable surces.  These are all lifestyle choices that we can make in a stepwise fashion.

According to Wikipedia, “a zero-carbon city runs entirely on renewable energy; it has no carbon footprint and will in this respect not cause harm to the planet.”

From  “The UK is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050, relative to 1990 levels.”

When building new homes, the opportunity for the greatest impact is during the design stage.  “An Eco-house (or eco-home) is an environmentally low-impact home designed and built using materials and technology that reduces its carbon footprint and lowers its energy needs.”

It’s uncertain where this phrase originated, but it’s widely quoted. But by how much can a home’s carbon footprint really be reduced?