The English have been going on about zero carbon homes for 20 years now and we have 3 zero carbon homes built, of which 1 is in the grounds of the BRE in Garston.
Well, who has heard of the Germans? (with their great cars and washing machines and tumble dryers) and have you heard of the passwhaus standard? Basically it is airtight well insulated homes with minimal requirements for powering appliances and lights coupled with a degree of solar gain for heating.
Passwhaus standard has been around for 17 years with about 12,000 completions.