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Regenerative Design

New building developments will go further than net-zero impact, generating more energy than they consume and embedding principles of regenerative design.

For lasting net zero transformation in our city, we need to embrace a culture of ‘Regenerative Design’ for our new developments. The Regenerative Design’ philosophy recognises that we all have a responsibility to leave the planet in a better state than we found it. The guiding principles of regenerative design seek to create fair and resilient developments that consider materials reuse, carbon footprint, water stewardship and integrate the needs of society with the limitations of the planet.

New development is expected to add 29,600 dwellings to the region’s stock by 2025 which could see domestic energy demand grow by up to 384 GWh (13%). A shift to the development of buildings that produce more energy than they consume is necessary if we are to tackle the expected increase in energy demand from this new development.

Positive energy buildings are technically feasible and with increased uptake are likely to become cheaper and more accessible the more.  However, in order to do this we need to see transformation in construction methods, energy generation technologies and City energy markets. There is significant opportunity for Cities and governments to develop regulatory policies that drive uptake by increasing mandatory energy performance with incentives and voluntary measures.

Working towards this goal is especially important as it interlinks with several of the other goals for Exeter. New developments that positively contribute to city energy use will mean that less onshore generation development and retrofitting of older building stock will be required.


Imagining the Future of Exeter

Through our engagement activities with the diverse business and local communities of Exeter and by analysing best practices of other cities across the globe we have identified a set of features that Exeter will need to demonstrate in order to meet this Goal.


  • Local planning standards for energy efficiency ensure that all new commercial developments operate at carbon-neutral levels, with carbon negative considered to be optimal
  • It will be standard practice for all new housing development in Exeter to be carbon neutral
  • Smart-energy technology is in all public buildings and commercial property supporting the efficient use of energy
  • Every public building in the city, including schools, meets the highest standard of energy efficiency, reducing the energy needed for heating 
  • Exeter has developed a supply chain and policy environment that ensures the delivery of net-positive energy buildings as standard.
  • New commercial and public buildings have systems in place to capture and reuse waste energy
  • The City has regulatory policies in place that increase development of net-positive energy buildings by increasing mandatory energy performance with incentives and voluntary measures.

City Showcase

Here are projects being undertaken across Exeter that are already working towards this goal.