A fundamental review of housing design is needed if the UK is to produce successful low-carbon homes of the future, advises a new guide by the National House-Building Council (NHBC) Foundation.

There are concerns that new technology may not be delivering to its full potential and the drive to conserve energy could inadvertently invite other problems such as overheating and poor indoor air quality.

The NHBC Foundation guide ‘Designing homes for the 21st Century – lessons for low energy design’ explores the challenges of designing zero-carbon homes and helps identify the processes needed to achieve cost-effective and practical design. It finds that current design and procurement practices need to change if these are to be addressed.

The report is the 50th produced by the NHBC Foundation and is the fourth in a series of guides intended to help housebuilders and designers understand the issues presented by low-energy homes without proposing a specific model for what a 21st Century home might look like.

Neil Smith, group research and innovation manager at NHBC, said: "The challenges we face in designing homes fit for the 21st Century are clear. We need homes that achieve zero-carbon performance whilst providing a comfortable and healthy indoor environment.

"In recent decades, the design of new homes has adapted to incorporate new features and new technologies through gradual evolution. But there are now questions about whether this is the right approach or whether we need a more fundamental review of housing design.

"This guide is intended to help designers and housebuilders understand the need for holistic design which does not rely on a ‘business as usual’ approach with additional technologies bolted on."

For more information, please visit: www.nhbcfoundation.org/21stCenturyhomes.