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.