A Look at the Future of Sustainable Building
At the recent COP 21 Conference in Paris, a historic climate change deal was agreed. The event saw 195 countries commit to cutting their greenhouse emissions and to limiting the global average temperature rise to below 2°C. This represents the world’s first universal, legally binding deal to tackle global warming and marks a triumphant step in staving off the worst effects of the problem.
It therefore follows that all industries will be required to look closely at their individual outlays. Arguably one of the most important and impactful sectors is that of construction and housing, which collectively contribute a significant proportion of emissions.
As such, the focus and pressure on the building industry to identify and implement more ecologically-sound methods of construction and performance is significant. There are a handful of developers that hold the future of sustainable building very close to their hearts and who are working with a number of partners to develop ground-breaking technologies and processes to future-proof homes and make them as energy efficient as singularly possible.
What really needs to happen is to break the mould in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability when designing homes but also to remember that a strong focus on the local community will be integral to the long-term success of a project.
Thermal envelopes for example need to be robust in terms of thermal durability and insulation. At our inaugural development Viver Green, we chose the Amvic ICF system which consists of high-density polystyrene panels 1200mm long, 400mm high, and 65mm wide, spaced apart by high strength polypropylene webs. The forms provide a fully insulating, permanent shuttering system into which concrete is poured and once cast, not only provides the necessary structural integrity for the building, but also excellent sound insulation, fire safety, thermal mass and durability for the structure’s lifetime. The system also allows for a high level of thermal insulation resulting in low U values. The use of Amvic ICF has, to date, been limited at multiple unit developments but we are hoping to illustrate its many assets and benefits so that it will become a go-to material of the future.
Something else to consider when building sustainably is how the property will be heated. At Viver Green, all properties feature under-floor heating to all floors which allows for a low temperature heating system. Due to the high level of thermal insulation the heat losses are therefore minimal and heat is supplied by an air source heat pump (ASHP) which extracts energy from the air and transfers it to water. It is then pumped to supply heating and hot water, utilising one unit of electricity which, in turn, provides 3 units of heat.
Even though the ASHP provides efficient heat, it does also use electricity, so the usage has been limited by installing solar PV to provide electricity from the sun. Each home is also given an optimum orientation position to obtain a maximum PVGIS score and as technology catches up the use of Battery storage devices will be designed into the homes.
Another key factor has been the introduction of a mechanical ventilation, heat recovery system. The system works by taking waste heat from bathrooms, kitchens and toilet areas and passing it through a heat exchanger to atmosphere. As it passes through the heat exchanger it warms the incoming cold air therefore providing for a balanced warm air ventilation system throughout the home.
This also means the homes are healthier to live in and cosmetically attractive, providing a significant wellbeing factor which reduces illness and increases positivity within the home environment – something that consumers are becoming increasingly aware of.
A common misconception about sustainable homes is that they are unattractive and architecturally inferior. We have therefore been careful to work with a leading and very experienced architect who has designed without restriction to deliver a contemporary and cutting-edge product. And there is no reason why this can’t be the case for all sustainable homes.
Beyond a property itself, its setting and context within the surrounding environment is absolutely essential and creating a sustainable landscape which offers wider community benefits should play an integral part of the design process. Examples of the ways this can be addressed by developers could include employing apprentices, conducing face-to-face meetings with local councillors and residents, incorporating community facilities, using local craftsmen and traditional techniques, working with local charities, providing the right surroundings to allow for the nesting of birds and the seeding of wild flowers and the creation of Community Interest Companies to provide a long-term financial commitment to the community.
Via our current and future developments, eggHomes is planning to build homes for the future and establish a sustainable legacy that will become a byword for luxury ecological living. We are currently in talks with several land owners in nearby areas to secure future sites for development.
Chris Nelson – Founding Partner and Director of Sales & Marketing at eggHomes
eggHomes is a hamlet of 19 elegant residences set on plots of between 156sqm and 291sqm in Hincaster, Cumbria. Prices range from £445,950 to in excess of £800,000 for four and five bedroom homes.