Affordable homes to become renewable with GBP 5m share of Government Grant

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An initiative aimed at increasing the use of renewable construction materials in affordable homes has been agreed by DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) and the government’s housing and regeneration body the HCA (Homes and Communities Agency). DECC has provided funding under the Low Carbon Investment Fund, which will be administered through the HCA’s National Affordable Housing Programme. The funding is to create a series of greener homes designed to minimise environmental impact through the increased use of building materials from renewable sources.

Only homes that start on site during this financial year, achieve Level 4 or above of the Code for Sustainable Homes and use a very high proportion of construction materials from renewable sources such as timber frame, , natural insulation and timber windows will be eligible for funding. Developers will also be required to install smart meters to track energy use and monitoring will continue once residents have moved in to the homes.

Robert Napier, chairman of the HCA said: “This is a highly significant stepping stone in the bid to create greener homes and using renewable materials is imperative to the future of house building. The funding will be a catalyst in helping to develop the skills and methods needed to create a low carbon economy.”

This new partnership with DECC is an innovative way of ensuring we help house builders achieve greater levels of sustainability when providing high quality affordable homes for the people who need them.

“The money is in addition to any normal grant funding awarded to our partners and allows them to get a head start in building greener homes that rely less on traditional carbon heavy materials and more on healthier, renewable products that should lead to valuable savings for residents over the long term.”

Energy and Climate Change Minister Joan Ruddock said: “Making homes as energy efficient as possible makes environmental and financial sense. The money will help fund the new homes of the future which will use less energy and keep heat in. By reducing carbon emissions in this way we can help to prevent dangerous climate change from happening.”

The first three projects to receive funding from the HCA to construct homes from renewable materials and therefore help educate developers and RSLs on the use of these new materials and techniques, are:

  • £3m for Denmark Lane, Diss in Norfolk – a rural site being developed by Czero with Flagship Housing as the RSL partner. The scheme will include 114 homes built to Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, 102 of which will be affordable, due to start on site in November.
  • £840k for The Triangle in Swindon to deliver 42 affordable homes built to Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes. Kevin McCloud’s development company, Hab Oakus, will start work on site in December and Greensquare Group is the RSL partner.
  • £320k for Blackditch, Oxfordshire, a rural scheme including 16 affordable homes built to Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, due to start on site in March 2010. The RSL is Cottsway Housing and a developer is yet to be selected.
  • Further schemes to receive a share of the £5m will be announced later this year and the first homes are due to be completed by March 2010. The intention is to fund the creation of affordable homes on around 6 sites through the use of renewable construction methods.

This partnership has been established to make use of the lessons learned from the construction of the NNFCC Renewable House which was funded by DECC and supported by the HCA. The Renewable House was built to Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes and made compliant with NAHP standards, using renewable materials such as hemcrete, hemp insulation and timber frames at a construction cost of £75,000. More on the Renewable House, situated at the BRE Innovation Park, is available at www.renewable-house.co.uk

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