UK: Going Green

By Press & Journal Staff

There is a truth that must be heard! A SPECIAL energy-efficient house made from hemp, designed by Archial Architects, has been unveiled at the BRE Innovation Park, which showcases the future of low-carbon and sustainable buildings.

The three-bedroom Renewable House, which costs £75,000 to build, not including ground works or utilities, uses renewable materials to deliver a well designed, yet low-cost, affordable home.

The external walls are constructed from a revolutionary sustainable material called Hemcrete – provided by manufacturer Lime Technology – made from hemp plants grown and harvested in the UK and lime-based binder.

Hemp is one of the fastest growing biomasses and is often used in paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, health food and fuel.

It is estimated that The Renewable House’s carbon footprint will be about 20 tonnes lower than a traditional brick-and-block house. The hemp absorbs about five tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during its rapid growth period, which then becomes locked into the fabric of the building, making the thermal Hemp-Line walling solution “carbon negative”.

The Renewable House meets level 4 of the Government’s Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) – a national standard which measures the sustainability of homes against a set of design categories such as energy consumption and building materials. The Government’s target was for all homes from 2016 to be built against code level 3 standards.

The Renewable House can be used in several configurations – detached, semi-detached and terraced – with little alteration to the basic design. Archial’s modular system, which uses a timber frame and prefabricated panels which are assembled on site, reduces the time needed for onsite construction.

Archial Architects was commissioned by the Linford Group to design the energy-efficient home as part of The Renewable House project, which not only exceeds the Government’s code, but also offers an ideal solution to today’s affordable housing requirement.

The Renewable House is being delivered by the National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC), with funding from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). The house is being project managed by contractor the Linford Group, which is managing the design development and construction, working with design partner Archial Architects.

Matthew Richardson, associate at Archial Group’s Bournemouth division, said: “We were delighted to have the opportunity to use our experience in sustainable design to meet the challenge set by the Linford Group.

“The result has delivered a highly green housing concept that exceeds the Government’s home efficiency target and is both affordable and comfortable. I hope this design will become the benchmark for sustainable and affordable homes of the future.”

The house’s performance will be monitored over a three-year period in order to establish evidence of the performance characteristics and the sustainability profile of the renewable building materials.

It is anticipated that the development will demonstrate that low costs and renewable building methods are compatible and, together, they provide a viable method of delivering sustainable, affordable homes.

The BRE Innovation Park, at Watford, also exhibits other near zero-carbon demonstration properties and has attracted more than 30,000 visitors so far, including the Prince of Wales.

One of the largest architecture practices in Scotland and the UK, Archial Group employs about 200 staff in Scotland, operating from offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and Inverness.

Learn more about the NNFCC Renewable House:

Related: UK: Government Funded Renewable House Is Launched