Local authorities can ensure new homes are sustainable

The number of new build houses in the UK is up 21% on 2016. But we still need many more to make any kind of inroad into tackling affordability and meeting decades of under supply and pent up demand.

With such significant levels of current activity, local authorities are well positioned to challenge and influence design and build processes, especially when it comes to sustainability.

With the pressure on to deliver ever more new units, some might believe that the quickest, easiest solution is to stick to the tried and tested. But they couldn’t be more wrong.

New systems and approaches, driven by a desire to be more sustainable, are now being introduced and these will not only be better for the environment and the communities they serve, but also address economic sustainability, in that they’re quicker and more cost effective to build.

Surprised that sustainable can equal economic? Don’t be.

Yes, sustainability and innovation go hand-in-hand and have historically required a deeper pot of cash and a heightened degree of risk. But, just as with any tech innovation, some are now coming of age and reaching the point of commercialisation. Which means they should be now be adopted more widely.

But getting these new approaches to be adopted within house building is likely to lag behind, as it always does, unless local authorities take a lead in pushing for their inclusion.

The Carbon Free Group can help local authorities understand and tap into these new opportunities, ensuring they are able to effectively assess plans being brought forward for new housing units.

The Carbon Free Group makes sustainability accessible. It provides a platform for collaboration and connected innovation through which industry can deliver more sustainable, higher performance, lower cost solutions at a deferred risk. By linking industry to other built environment stakeholders, such as the local authority, we can help ensure this becomes applied innovation.

The group brings together corporations, SMEs, industry experts, communities and local people to:

  • Solve persistent industry problems
  • Facilitate collaborative working
  • Develop commercially viable solutions
  • Deploy solutions to the market
  • Create circular economy models and
  • Establish funds to support research and development.

In pursuing these outcomes, the Carbon Free Group analyses each step of the Technology Readiness Level process to identify and mitigate against risk. This is critical as risk is a major barrier to innovation, decarbonisation and sustainability.

Putting it into practice

The Atelio modular home is an example of how the Carbon Free Group model will seek to upscale innovation and sustainability in the UK’s housing market.

Launched last month at Construction Week to mass acclaim, the Atelio Modular Home is a collaboration between panel manufacturer Tufeco, global architects Grimshaw, SAM Architects and The Carbon Free Group. Atelio is a completely new approach to housing: it is based on modular composite panels which are printed, manufactured offsite and made from recycled glass.

Two key benefits of the panels are that they significantly reduce on-site construction times, with a typical house structure airtight in around three days, ready to accept second fix installations. They also require just three semi-skilled installers to complete. That’s a significant time and labour saving.

However, the Tufeco modular panels are just one sustainable (decarbonising) element feature of the Atelio home, which is being used as a blueprint for an upcoming development in Cromer on the Norfolk coast. Other elements include:

  • A focus on setting which incorporates man-made woodland clusters which focus on native planting and enhanced biodiversity
  • The inclusion of renewable energy generation, storage, monitoring and trading opportunities
  • Use of air purifying paints, recycled floorcoverings, green roofs and walls.

Some of the aspects included within Atelio are genuinely new (Tufeco panels and air purifying plants) while others have been around but for various reasons have not been widely deployed. The fact is that joining the dots between the different technologies can not only deliver improved sustainability – it can speed up build times, reduce construction costs and create outstanding living spaces.

But if the plans you view stick to the tried and tested – you’ll miss these opportunities.

We’re not saying this is a one-size-fits-all recommendation. What we’re saying is that local authorities should engage with the innovation community and seek advice on what can be achieved within their locale.

Local authorities have the power to drive change. They can make it more attractive for builders to rise above the sustainability baseline. And we can help them.

For more information on the support provided by The Carbon Free Group visit: www.carbonfreegroup.com

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Anthony Morgan

Anthony Morgan

Co-founder, Carbon Free Group

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