‘Grand designs’ on the future of zero carbon social housing

 All too often low carbon concept homes are unaffordable ‘grand designs’ far removed from the realities of the UK’s housing needs. The Tarmac Homes project aims to break this tradition by developing a ‘blueprint’ for affordable, volume zero carbon housing. In the first of a series of monthly updates on the build, Phil Sabin, business development manager at Tarmac outlines the project aims.
Roof trusses at week 12
Maybe it is the nation’s preoccupation with self-build TV programmes but the terms ‘concept’ or ‘eco homes’ have become bywords for properties equipped with the latest green 'bling’ and expensive high-design. While there is a place for pushing technology boundaries and showcasing cutting-edge architecture, the reality is that these homes do not show how the UK can deliver volume, low cost zero carbon homes.

Current economic factors aside, we face major challenges. The stark reality is that the Government’s zero carbon targets for new homes remains in place. There is also a critical need to understand how to build to Level 6 of the Code for Sustainable Homes on budget and at the same time tackling housing shortage by delivering 240,000 new homes by 2016.

The Tarmac Homes project, which is part of the University of Nottingham’s Creative Energy Homes initiative, will see the construction of two concept homes which will aim to create a blueprints for volume, zero carbon housing.

Starting in January, the two detached homes will be built using masonry products and techniques by Tarmac and its project partners, Lovell, Bill Dunster Architects and the University of Nottingham’s School of the Built Environment.

One property will be built to Code Level 4 and the other to Code Level 6. Many questions regarding the Code for Sustainable Homes remain unanswered and it is Tarmac’s intention to use these homes to demystify the Code and demonstrate that affordable, replicable Level 6 homes can be delivered using proven construction methods by harnessing the thermal mass properies of heavyweight masonry products.

As a live working testbed, the project will aim to act as a showcase, and help to address critical questions around affordable, energy efficient housing for RSLs, government and developers. Post build, the homes will not be left empty as is the case on other test-bed construction projects. They will be lived in by academics at the University of Nottingham and their energy performance continually monitored and tested by the Nottingham team.

The need for the industry to unlock the key to creating low-cost, volume zero carbon housing is now more vital than ever. The Tarmac Home project will be a valuable working template that we can use to help the industry arm itself with the knowledge and experience to make this a reality.

Read more about Phil Sabin - Tarmac - Business Development Manager

Read more on the Code for Sustainable Homes (CfSH)

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Fact 4

Over 60 years, a concrete and masonry home emits up to 15 tonnes less CO² than a lightweight alternative, so providing a better long term solution.  See more benefits of concrete in Why Masonry?