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Midlands based housebuilder Hayfield Homes are leading the way in eco home building at their latest development just outside Worcester.
All homes will be built with an air source heat pump – therefore no connection to the grid is required.
The heat pumps, located externally, operate continually to drag heat from the ground and outside air into the heating system inside the homes creating little noise as they are based on acoustic feet.
The size of pump is determined by the size of house from 9kw for a 5 bed detached down to 4kw for a 2 bed.
The larger houses are also equipped with underfloor heating to maximise the efficiency of the heat pumps.
Hayfield Homes started fitting air source heat pumps in their new builds back in 2019 to get ahead of the curve before the Government’s new building standards come into force in 2025 pushing fossil fuels out of all new build homes.
The use of air source heat pumps is essential if the Government is to reach its net zero target by 2050.
There is one challenge with this move to cleaner energy, that is the demand on the electricity grid and Hayfield have had to create new electricity substations to meet the demands of its new homes.
When used correctly, it is proven the efficiency and cost effectiveness of air source can be very significant.
According to the Wildlife Trust, the UK has lost 97% of Lowland meadows since 1930, with the government’s target of 300,000 homes a year, the UK will continue to see this percentage climb. As crucial as it is to meet this target for new homes, we must preserve our Nature and Wildlife.
Developers, when building new homes, are obliged to minimize the risk to surrounding biodiversity and should provide a Protected Species survey, ecology report or environmental report for their planning application.
It’s important Planners and Developers understand different species, the types of environments these species live in and how we can mitigate damage to their habitats, with relevant developments including New Builds, Conversions, Demolition, Extensions and Roofing Work.
Developers when building new homes, are obliged to minimize the risk to surrounding biodiversity. They are to provide a Protected Species survey, ecology report or environmental report for their planning application.
A local example is Trumpington Meadows just outside of Cambridge, a 1,200-home development, with 58ha of greenspace. The interesting design has allowed for the Greenspace to be in one single block, rather than dotted throughout the development, Allowing for a beautiful nature reserve and home to many species.
A further example is Mace’s recent announcement to create 2000m of Shallow foot drains at Fobbing Marshes, Essex. This will allow water to be held closer to the surface to improve the quality of the grassland for Wetland Birds & Invertebrates.
Biodiversity Net Gain is the idea of implementing systems which ensure the impacts of a development are overall positive and aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than it was before, requiring a 10% minimum net gain for biodiversity, through enhancement or habitat replacement on or near a new development site.
Through the environment Act 2021, this will become mandatory from November 2023, which will enable developers to commit to Climate Change.
As we work towards the Government’s target of Net Zero by 2030 the importance of building sustainable new homes is ever more important.
A recent study by CBRE looking at the cost effectiveness of new homes, showed that modern building methods are more energy efficient than their older counterparts and that new homes built sustainably are future proofed against the new upcoming legislation on the road towards Net Zero.
Home owners are becoming a lot more conscious of their homes “Green Credentials” and are now looking carefully at the energy performance of their homes and how that can help reduce the energy bills as prices continue to rise.
Landlords too will have to ensure their properties meet the energy efficiency standards of the new builds from 2025.
Sustainable new developments are being built by developers such as Human Nature who are looking to reimagine “a more optimistic vision of what it is to live well in the 21st century” according to chief executive Jonathan Smales. Our developments aim to be the lowest carbon and most sustainable developments in the UK, using sustainable engineered timber, powered by 100% renewal electricity and heated by ground and water source heat pumps.
We have the technology to build sustainably and the government is now looking to industry to help inform upcoming consultations on 2025 Future Homes Standard.
Over 50,000 new construction sites started between 1st April and 30th June 2022 alone, it’s not a surprise the construction industry uses approximately 400 million tonnes of building materials a year. It is estimated that, on average, 25% (100 million tonnes) go to waste each year and 93% is recycled and reused.
The majority of waste goes to landfill, where hazardous materials need to be managed correctly otherwise, they could cause soil and water pollution. Therefore, it is crucial that construction companies aim to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle to minimise their waste and conserve the planet.
Do not waste any surplus items, store, and reuse:
It is essential to recycle to reduce the amount that ends up in landfill. Common materials you can recycle are:
There are increasingly more options available in terms of recycling and reusing construction materials and in turn, reducing landfill waste. Despite this, a large amount of construction waste is still sent to landfills and makes up 32% of this, with 13% being products sent directly to landfill without being used.
It is, therefore, crucial that construction companies continue their aim to reduce, reuse, and recycle to minimise their waste and conserve the planet’s natural resources.
With the impacts of Climate Change becoming more and more apparent, the UK construction industry is evolving to keep up to pace with the changes required to contribute toward a more sustainable industry.
By the end of the 21st century, all areas of the UK are predicted to be warmer, with UK Summers seeing the greatest rise in temperatures, and the winters seeing a 30% increase in rain. Nearly 5.2 million properties are at risk of being flooded every year, equating to 1 in 6 properties. By 2050, this number could double.
The built environment contributes to 25% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions annually, with this in mind the UK government has started to examine the ways in which emissions can be reduced whilst still reaching the 300,000 homes target annually.
Here at Granite, we have been looking into some ways developers can ensure properties are attempting to reach the Net Zero Carbon target.
In principle, a Zero Carbon house produces zero or negative CO2 emissions. They aim to maximise energy efficiency and maintain renewable energy. It is important to note that location plays a big part in suitability for generating and accommodating renewable energy.
In June 2022, the government implemented changes to the Building Regulations in favour of building Net Zero Carbon properties, the changes are as follows;
The Green Deal is a scheme set up by the UK government to enable homeowners to benefit from energy-saving improvements. Any Household within England, Scotland or Wales with an electricity meter can benefit from the scheme.
An assessment of energy usage within your home will be undertaken by a Green Deal Assessor and will evaluate how you could benefit from the improvements. This could include;
A loan is granted by a chosen provider and is paid back through a charge added to your electricity bill. The Green Deal stays with the property so if you move you no longer make repayments. The Annual repayments on the loan shouldn’t be more than the savings you would make from benefitting from the improvements.
With this in mind, the Construction sector is becoming more aware of the need for change. It appears the Government are clearly aware of the severity of Climate Change, offering continuing support to the Construction Industry.
Renewable energy sources have long been heralded as our way out of the carbon crisis and reducing climate change. But is climate change itself impacting on the ability of wind to generate our electricity of the future?
A lull in wind speeds over Europe in 2021 has been a cause for concern. The longest calm spell in 10 years was recorded in March 2021. Coal fired power stations had to be used to combat the lack of electricity generated by the wind.
According to Paul Williams, professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading, “Given what we saw in 2021, I think we will see and we need studies to understand (wind trends) better, especially given our increased reliance on wind as an energy source.” (Source: The Telegraph).
Scientists and the boardroom are equally concerned; but wind modelling is a complicated and uncertain thing to predict over the long term. Some scientists have estimated up to a 10% fall in wind speed by 2100. Other research suggests wind speeds could increase. Overall, the UK long term averages for wind speed remain close to the average.
There is also the argument that future wind turbines will be more powerful. So will easily compensate for lower wind speeds and still be able to generate more electricity.
Here in the UK we are well positioned to keep investing in wind turbines, as the North Sea remains one of the windiest areas. Even with a 10% fall in wind speed, this would not substantially affect electricity generation. The more turbines we build around Britain, the more resilient we will be to changes in wind speed.
However, with the imminent retirement of many coal and gas fired power stations in the immediate future, these changes must be addressed and investigated as the old power houses will not be there to help out in the future.
Compared to other countries, Britain is lagging behind in the hydrogen revolution. Germany has invested heavily and has 200 operational filling stations for hydrogen powered cars – Britain has only a handful.
Car manufacturers are leading the way, with several successfully launching hydrogen powered cars which are driving around. Vehicles currently form the most advanced part of the hydrogen energy revolution.
However, with the global need for reducing carbon, it is likely that the positive potential of hydrogen will have a powerful role to play in the future of clean, green energy.
With the ever increasing need to reduce the use of fossil fuels and carbon footprints, the Government is keen to promote renewable technology in our homes. The arrival of the Future Homes Standard, together with a decision that no new homes built after 2025 will have fossil fuel heating systems, has increased the popularity of air and ground source heat pumps. Many new homes are now being built with either air or ground source heat pumps to provide the heating and hot water in the home.
An air source heat pump takes cooler air from outside and boosts its temperature using a compressor. It then transfers the heat to the heating system in your home via either an air-to-air or air-to-water system. Air-to-water is most suitable when using underfloor heating and large radiators. Air-to-air uses a warm air system to heat the home. Although it cannot heat water, it will also work as an air conditioning unit in the summer.
These work by harnessing the natural warmth underground and passing water pipes through it to absorb the heat. The heat pump increases the temperature and then uses it to pump heat around the home and to heat hot water. Only ground source heat pumps are eligible for the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive.
Both systems use electricity. Because the temperature reached is not as high as with fossil fuels, the system must run longer in order to maintain a comfortable temperature.
Both systems are expensive to install, costing upwards of £9,000; and good insulation is a must if they are to be efficient. Air source heat pumps will need a large outdoor unit so space outside is necessary. These can be both noisy and cold in the immediate vicinity. Planning permission will also be required in listed buildings and conservation areas. However, on the plus side, they generate less CO2 than conventional systems. Some money is available via Government grants to offset the initial costs. They are most economical when used in conjunction with renewable energy providers such as solar panels, using the energy generated to run the pumps.
With the change in attitude of the home buyer, the house builders see the advantages of building with these new technologies as an asset to the home. And, fitting systems during building is much less disruptive and more efficient than replacing an old system.
It would seem this must be the way forward for us all.
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