Keepmoat lead the way in developing zero carbon homes

National housing and regeneration company Keepmoat is leading the way in demonstrating how zero carbon homes could become a feature of developments across the country in the future, thanks to two pioneering projects in the North East.

The schemes, in Newcastle and Stockton-on-Tees, feature six homes all meeting the upper levels of the Government’s Code for Sustainable Homes, from Code 4 to Code 6 – the highest level available, providing homeowners with lower running costs through greater energy and water efficiency and a more pleasant and healthy place to live.

The pilot project has proved so successful that the Code 6 property built in Newcastle for affordable housing provider Leazes Homes has now been named as the joint-highest scoring property in its class at the 2013 Code for Sustainable Homes Awards.

For Keepmoat, the value of the project has been demonstrating the cost and feasibility of building Code 4, 5 and 6 homes as part of regular developments – information which can now be shared with local authorities and Registered Social Landlord (RSL) clients across the country.

Keepmoat Group Sustainability Director Nigel Banks said:

“Keepmoat were keen to demonstrate that Code 6 requirements can be achieved on our standard house types and prove that designers and planners do not need to produce a bespoke housing product to achieve high environmental standards.

“We identified two sites in the North East to deliver Code 6 homes and we are delighted that the site we developed with Leazes Homes in Newcastle has achieved the accolade of the highest scoring Code 6 home in 2012/13.

“With the help of our local consultants Queensberry Design, we have been able to demonstrate that you do not need a weird and wonderful design to be environmentally efficient.”

As part of the pilot scheme, a Code 4, 5 and 6 property was built alongside standard house types on Keepmoat developments in Blakelaw, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and at Mandale Park in Stockton.

Leazes Homes’ Blakelaw scheme was built on a 2.02 hectare former brownfield site, previously home to six unattractive and unpopular blocks of two storey deck access flats.

Following problems with vandalism and anti-social behaviour, the flats were subsequently demolished to make way for the new, mixed-tenure, 98-home development.

The pilot properties have been constructed with a variety of energy saving features, including extremely high levels of insulation, a mechanical ventilation heat recovery system which re-circulates air from the warmer areas of the home and south facing photovoltaic (PV) panels mounted on a mono pitched roof.

Keepmoat has been producing code homes since 2008, constructing more than 2,000 Code 3 and 4 homes over the last five years.

The North East pilot scheme marks the first Code 5 and 6 homes to be built by the company, with a further three Code 6 homes to be constructed in South Yorkshire this year. These properties will be rated among the most environmentally friendly zero carbon homes built in the whole of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

One of the aims of the project has been to allow Keepmoat to provide accurate and up-to-date information to clients about the cost involved in achieving higher code levels for homes on new build developments.

This amount varies between individual sites but as an approximation, a four-bedroom semi-detached home build to Code 5 costs approximately £10,000 more than a similar property built to Code 3, with a Code 6 home costing an additional £18,500 than a Code 3 property.

Nigel Banks said:

“Green issues are still very much on the agenda for many of our RSL clients and we’re receiving a growing number of enquiries about the practicalities of developing more sustainable homes.

“The pilot scheme will enable us to provide much more accurate information than was previously available about how these projects work in practice and what clients can expect in terms of the cost involved.”

Sustainability is at the heart of Keepmoat’s work and over the last decade the company has delivered a number of pioneering ‘eco’ projects across the UK – from retrofitting to new build – helping shape the way modern communities are delivered.

Work carried out by Keepmoat includes large scale community retrofit projects, solar PV installation and maintenance, installation of energy saving heating solutions, Energy Company Obligation and Green Deal projects and Passivhaus standard homes.

Earlier this year two of Keepmoat’s retrofit projects came out top in the Technology Strategy Board’s (TSB) national ‘Retrofit for the Future’ competition in terms of the carbon emission and fuel bill savings achieved.

Eighty-seven projects, including four by Keepmoat, successfully received £150,000 of funding, with the aim of achieving an 80% carbon reduction goal. Most of these projects delivered retrofit works to a single property; however, many of Keepmoat’s projects delivered works to multiple properties resulting in significantly more realistic retrofit budgets of £20,000 to 30,000 per property.

Following the installation of the retrofit measures and subsequent monitoring of the performance of all 113 properties, 37 properties had adequate and robust data to confirm the savings delivered. Just three homes delivered over 80% carbon savings, two of these homes (including the highest performing home) was delivered by Keepmoat’s retrofit projects with Rotherham Council and Wakefield and District Housing.