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published: 4/8/2010
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First Welsh zero carbon home will kick-start a green economy

A new mini-community of zero and near zero carbon homes on the site of the old steel works at Ebbw Vale look set to not only stimulate the development a low carbon built environment in Wales but also to kick-start a ‘green' economy in the country.

The Welsh Future Homes project, launched today by Jane Davidson AM, Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing, is a unique development of three affordable houses and a visitor centre. One of the homes has been designed to meet Level 6 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, making it a zero carbon home - the first to be achieved in Wales.

Each of the buildings are constructed from a range of locally sourced materials that demonstrate high sustainability credentials and low energy costs of as little as £50 per annum.

The development, a partnership project between BRE Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government, Blaenau Gwent Council and United Welsh Housing Association includes:

  • A three bedroom Passivhaus, designed to meet Level 6 of the Code for Sustainable Homes. Designed by Bere Architects and developed by United Welsh Housing Association, the home is constructed with a close panel timber frame system made from Welsh timber that was developed by BRE, Bere and Holbrook timber frame. The home includes PVs and is clad with Welsh Larch.
  • A three bedroom house developed by a company from Flint called Dragonboard which uses the company's own innovative board product that acts as a replacement for oriented strand board, and plasterboard. This house has been designed to meet Level 5 of the Code for Sustainable Homes.
  • A two bedroom Passivhaus (under construction) designed by Bere Architects and developed by United Welsh Housing Association. This home is similar to the three bedroom Passivhaus but is clad in Welsh lime render. On this home, Woodknowledge Wales, Bere and BRE worked with Beyer, a UK window designer and eight Welsh joiners to develop a Passivhaus standard window that can be made by Welsh joiners using Welsh timbers. Prior to this project there was not a single company able to make Passivhaus quality windows in Wales.
  • o Visitor centre: designed by the Welsh School of Architecture (WSA) it is constructed from the Ty Unnos post and beam system developed by WSA, Woodknowledge Wales, Coed Cymru and partners. This low energy building (approx 18kwh/m2/yr) uses Welsh timber, Warmcell insulation from Rhymney with windows and doors developed by Vintage Windows, a local joiner using Welsh wood.

BRE Wales Director Nick Tune said ‘BRE and partners are very proud of what has been accomplished on this project. From the outset we aimed to achieve more than just sustainable homes. We wanted to develop a range of Welsh made construction materials and products that could meet the high sustainability criteria now essential in developing a low carbon built environment. Most of the homes meeting high levels of sustainability in the UK use a primarily international supply chain. We have shown what can be achieved through collaboration, partnership and a positive ‘can do attitude'.

Once occupied (Summer 2011), the homes will be monitored to see how they perform in use. Areas covered will include human behaviour in relation to energy and CO2 reduction, air quality in relation to the mechanical ventilation heat recovery system used in the homes to control airflow, heat loss of the buildings, and the efficiency of the renewable energy systems.

Jane Davidson AM said ‘I have no doubt these houses will be a catalyst for major changes in the way we design and build homes in Wales. They will also inspire Welsh householders to live in a greener way. The products that have been developed here in Wales will also act as a catalyst for and the creation of a ‘greener' economy by promoting the take up of indigenous construction materials, products and build systems. ‘ 

All of these ‘prototype' houses have cost between £1,200 - £1,600 m2 to build (average cost of social housing Code 3 is £1,200m2). Funding for the project came from the Heads of the Valleys Programme and Blaenau Gwent Council.

For further press information on the project contact Linda McKeown, BRE tel 01923 664569, mobile 07772228768 email mckeownl@bre.co.uk.

To arrange a visit to the homes contact Sue John, email sue.john@blaenau-gwent.gov.uk 

Notes to Editors:

BRE has been building a better world for almost 90 years through cutting edge research, consultancy and testing services. Our unrivalled knowledge in regard to sustainability and innovation is now used across the construction industry and in the corporate world creating better buildings, communities and businesses. BRE is part of the BRE Group of companies owned by the BRE Trust, a registered charity. The profits made by BRE go to the BRE Trust the largest UK charity dedicated specifically to research and education in the built environment.  http://www.bre.co.uk/

Blaenau Gwent Council: www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk

Welsh Assembly Government: www.wales.gov.uk

United Welsh Housing Association: www.uwha.co.uk

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