The Barratt ‘Green House’ for Hanham Hall- now a reality!

image: Denis Jones


The ‘zero carbon home’ has become concrete reality. The Barratt Green House is the first new home built by a mainstream housebuilder which measures up to the strict sustainability criteria they’ll all have to meet by 2016. See time lapse video of its construction.

Now on show at the BRE Innovation Park in Watford, the three-bedroom family home achieves Level Six (the highest level) of the government’s Code for Sustainable Homes. The code sets progressive minimum standards for new homes built between now and 2016, the deadline for the UK’s pacesetting requirement for all new homes to have zero carbon emissions (averaged over the course of a year).

Mark Clare, the chief executive of Barratt Developments, promised at the launch of the demonstration house in May to “take what works and apply it to house-building across the country”. His company has already won the contract with regeneration agency English Partnerships to build the first large-scale zero carbon community in the country, with 200 homes due to be completed in 2011 on the Hanham Hall Hospital brownfield site near Bristol.

Interpreting ‘zero carbon’ has been the subject of much debate in the housing and renewable energy industries, especially over whether each individual house must generate all the renewable energy to meet its needs. In a bid to establish consensus on this issue, the UK Green Building Council’s recent report The Definition of Zero Carbon rules out the ‘offsetting’ of the in-house renewables requirement by such means as making payments towards offshore wind farms, but does set ground rules for allowing some district heating schemes and participation in local community microgen projects. None of that (save for some ‘pooling’ of solar photovoltaic electricity generation using panels spread across adjacent house roofs) should be strictly necessary for the Barratt Green House, whose key features include:

  • high thermal mass, based on the use
    of ‘aircrete’ wall panels and pre-cast
    concrete floor slabs;
  • heating from an air source heat pump
    and hot water from solar panels;
  • special provision for drying clothes at
    the top of the stairs using the rising
    currents of warm air;
  • window shutters which can close
    automatically to minimise over-heating
    in hot summer weather; and
  • rainwater harvesting linked to ‘grey
    water’ use for flushing toilets.

Its design, by architects Gaunt Francis, was chosen last year as winner of the Homes of the Future competition in the Mail on Sunday’s British Homes Award.


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18 Responses to The Barratt ‘Green House’ for Hanham Hall- now a reality!

  1. ecoprogetti says:

    Noi siamo un’idea aiutateci a portarla avanti

  2. matt says:

    Which translates as, ”We are an idea and help bring forward”. Aha. 🙂

  3. the Grit says:


    Any data on how much it costs?

    the Grit

  4. matt says:

    This from Barratt’s CEO;

    Mark Clare, chief executive of Barratt, said it would not be easy to reduce the cost of the prototype to commercial levels but he was confident it could be done. The important thing, he added, was to build houses that people would buy.

    “We cannot and will not build houses that do not appeal to consumers. But they must also be affordable,” he said, adding that he was confident the new house would be accepted by buyers after winning 22,000 votes from the public in a competition last year.

    See this article for some cost analysis regarding eco-homes, which sees 10% additional cost from renewables.

  5. the Grit says:

    Hi matt,

    Thanks. 10% doesn’t sound that bad, although it’ll probably be 20% 🙂

    Still, any improvement in “modern” housing design is good. I don’t know how y’all build over there, but new houses over here are, in any reasonable price range, crap. There is absolutely no consideration given to inexpensive, yet practical, building practices to reduce utility costs. I’d also like to know why standard designs fail to include an interior courtyard!? I do, by the way, blame y’all for our insane fixation on having a manicured lawn 😉

    the Grit

  6. matt says:

    Current building quality over here is crap. And the UK has an obsession with putting up the same designs week after week, year after year. No variety like in the new world. Me coming from New Zealand I know the differences.

  7. Pete Smith says:

    Ironic that new build for the eco-town program is only required to meet sustainability code level 3.

  8. matt says:

    Level 3 is put as ‘Very Good’. See;

    Always seeing the negative Pete.

  9. Pete Smith says:

    Well if identifying ways in which things could be done better is “always seeing the negative” then yes.
    To be precise, level 3 under the new code corresponds to ‘very good’ under the old Ecohomes code that it displaces, but the old scale had nothing that corresponds to levels 5 or 6.
    The Housing Corporation has adopted level 3 as a minimum standard for their 2008-11 National Affordable Housing Programme.
    It looks increasingly unlikely that any quantity of houses will ever be built to level 6 standards, in spite of the goveernment’s 2016 deadline, because of cost constraints.

  10. matt says:

    Well, things take time to improve but it’s now all on the agenda and planned for putting into practice, which is better than we were 5 years ago.

  11. Pete Smith says:

    All subject to the usual government FSO* procedures 🙂

    *Fudge, Slippage and Obfuscation (sounds like a firm of solicitors)

  12. matt says:

    And with house builders laying off workers this week, shares slipping, land banks bought at top of market losing some value, you may still realise your dream of stopping the eco house in its track.

  13. Pete Smith says:

    I’m all for eco houses, or eco-houses, or whatever they’re called. I’m against having huge estates of them dumped on green land.

  14. matt says:

    Where would you put them then; yes, you’re going to say brown field land but (a) there’s not enough of it and (b) people inside metropolitan areas affected by these increasingly dense developments find services over run.

    How about eco towers in the middle of villages 🙂

  15. Pete Smith says:

    No. What you do is you add a small number of new houses to each hamlet, village and town in the country, with complete local control over where it’s put, what it looks like and what materials it’s made from. It’s the same kind of process that was commonplace for decades, before Whitehall decreed that local government was too incompetent.

  16. matt says:

    Nimbyism via the parish hall has virtually killed this ‘organic’ growth off. Which is probably why we find ourselves with mass house building programmes being proposed from the centre of power today.

  17. Pete Smith says:

    It’s a ‘least worst’ scenario. Choose between taking your village’s share of the load by building a little hamlet of 10 houses on the outskirts, or risk getting a 10000 home desert right next door.

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