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Construction of Sustainable Homes

Green Homes for Greenfields:

There have been interesting developments at Greenfields in Maidenhead, where Maidenhead and District Housing Association (MDHA) have built some of the most cutting edge housing in the country.

The homes were built following the principles of the INTEGER (intelligent and green) housing project. This project seeks to design homes that team environment friendly techniques and features with technology providing a more holistic approach to developing sustainable homes. The homes are designed to reduce natural resource and energy used both in the construction process and in day to day living. Each dwelling will use up to 50% less energy and 30% less water than a conventional house.

Greenfields Sustainable Housing

The Greenfields scheme comprises 19 one bed flats (many with balconies), 6 two bed houses, 2 three bed houses, along with associated parking, cycle storage and communal compost facilities. The scheme redeveloped an area of under-used, vandal prone garages.

The £2 million project cost around 10% more than a conventional scheme. This was jointly funded by The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, MDHA and The Housing Corporation. Funding for the solar panels (photovoltaic installation) was organised by our Energy Conservation Officer and money came from the Department of Trade and Industry Renewable Energy Programme National Photovoltaic Trial Fund.

There are many environmental features to the development. The buildings are orientated in a south westerly facing direction. The western areas have large areas of glazing to maximise passive solar gain. The rear, eastern elevations have smaller openings to minimise heat loss.

Two building workers at GreenfieldsWall panels are insulated with cellulose (recycled newspaper) achieving U values of 0.2 (twice the level required by Building Regulations). Panels are clad in unstained Western Red Cedar. This has the benefit of being from a sustainable source and requiring only low levels of maintenance.

Double glazed low emissivity coated windows, with a non-solvent stain are used throughout. A conservatory is also included as a heat buffer. This acts as a passive heat store, provides thermal heating and additional living/leisure space. Low energy light fittings are included to reduce energy consumption.

Picture of Greenfields Roof

The roofs are covered in sedum, a durable slow growing, low maintenance, alpine plant. The living green roof is rolled on top of mineral wool with an additional moisture retention layer. This prevents the roof draining too quickly. The living roof not only reduces excess water runoff by 90%, it also provides a microclimate that humidifies and cools surrounding air. Water run off is collected for communal garden watering and stored underground.

An additional roof feature includes a 'solar upstand'. This is constructed at an angle that optimises solar gain, with minimal shadowing from obstructions. Solar water panels and photovoltaic panels are mounted here which further reduce the running costs of homes.

Picture of Greenfields roofPassive stack ventilation provides an effective and energy efficient way of maintaining fresh air and removing smells and moisture without the need for electric fans.

Along with water efficient appliances, grey water recycling is installed. Water from baths, showers and wash basins is recycled to flush WCs. To reduce waste and construction times, factory constructed bathroom and kitchen pods are installed around a central service core. The pods are in essence factory produced 'rooms' containing all fixtures, finishes and floorings ready to be added to the structure. Clear service paths for wiring/heating pipes are designed in for easy access, maintenance and attention.

The homes have multiple provision of TV, telephone, cable and data points to facilitate home working. The aim is for technology to help deliver sustainable communities. Savings to tenants are anticipated to be in the region of 50% energy consumption, 30% water consumption. Monitoring is taking place to establish savings in use.

Picture of Greenfields Contruction siteAs a housing association providing homes for rent to people on low incomes, it is important to keep the running costs of homes as low as possible, as well as rents. This scheme should reduce gas, water and electric bills by up to half so improving tenants quality of life. Additionally the cable and data links within the scheme will help tenants join the information age.

As a pioneering project in prefabricated timber construction with all of the energy saving measures, costs have been higher than traditional designs. However, lessons learnt from this project in terms of design and sub contract assembly packages lead MDHA to believe that the next project will achieve build rates below the industry norm.

Housing Associations are major consumers of raw materials and energy. The sustainable construction methods and materials employed on this project, together with low energy consumption in use, point toward the future of sustainable construction.

Please contact us on 01628 683830 if you require more information, or complete our online form.

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Modified: 2015-04-20
Published: Tue, 02 Jun 2015 15:23:02
Author: Simon Arthur
Editor: Simon.Arthur
RDCMS ID: 1609