Are these the most sustainable affordable homes in Oxfordshire?

  • Ed Vaizey MP unveils Greencore’s One Planet Living homes in Longcot
  • Innovative construction means healthier, ultra low carbon homes
  • Highest performance standards championed for homes for shared ownership or rent in one of the most expensive housing areas in Britain

Ed Vaizey, former culture minister and MP for Wantage, joined Greencore Construction and other local housing and low carbon building experts last week to celebrate the opening of one of Britain’s most sustainable communities, in Longcot, Oxfordshire.

Kings Farm Close is a new development of 15 eco-homes, including six affordable homes built to the same high performance standards in one of the most expensive areas of the UK.

The affordable homes will include three two-bedroom homes and one three-bedroom home, let to tenants at below-market rates by Sovereign Housing Association, and two shared ownership homes reserved for local people who want to get onto the property ladder for the first time.

Nine further homes, a mixture of detached and semi-detached, will also be coming up for sale in summer 2019.

Thanks to Greencore’s Biond system, an innovative offsite construction system that uses natural materials, all of the homes have near-zero carbon footprints and will benefit from very low energy bills.

The One Planet Living framework used to develop Kings Farm Close also means that residents will be encouraged to manage their community to high environmental standards.

Ed Vaizey MP said:

“The vast majority of new-build homes in the UK are of bland design, poor build quality and lack basic sustainability credentials. Much of this is to do with national housebuilders refusing to embrace new technologies and construction methods.

“The Kings Farm Close development, however, is a shining example of forward-thinking, modern housebuilding from a team of people who are clearly very committed to bringing sustainable living to everyone – whether you own, part-own or rent your home.”

Each property at Kings Farm Close was prefabricated by Oxfordshire housebuilder Greencore Construction, before being transported to site and assembled by the firm’s build team.

Ian Pritchett, managing director at Greencore Construction, said:

“Greencore has been promoting the use of offsite construction for some time, and we build all our homes in our local factory using natural materials with low embodied carbon. Working in this way means our homes can be completed very quickly and to exceptionally high standards of quality control, all the while having a much lower impact on the environment.”

Developer Oxford Advanced Living also aims to enhance the variety of animal and wildflower species on the land in and around Kings Farm Close. A fifth of the site’s total area will be shared green space, planted and managed with native trees to support wildlife under a biodiversity plan.

Martin Pike, director of Oxford Advanced Living, said:

“This project has allowed us to put into practice all our ideas and determination to create a genuinely sustainable community in Oxfordshire, where the same high performance standards are available to everyone, regardless of whether you’re renting or buying a home. We believe that all the residents will be able to enjoy greener and healthier lifestyles at Kings Farm Close, and we look forward to their feedback to help us with future projects.”

Alex Brooks, development manager at Sovereign, said:

“These new affordable homes will not only be great places to live, they’ll also be good for the environment as well as keeping energy bills low for residents.

“It’s really important that we build homes and invest in communities that are fit for the future, so it’s been great to work with Oxford Advanced Living and Greencore Construction and we look forward to the new residents making these houses a home.”

In October 2018, Kings Farm Close was recognised by sustainability charity Bioregional for its national leadership in implementing One Planet Living, a comprehensive framework for planning, building and managing greener communities.

Kings Farm Close has multiple ways in which more environmentally sustainable living is made possible, including:

  • Construction of the homes using timber panels for the walls containing a thick insulation layer made from Yorkshire-grown hemp mixed with lime. Using these panels for construction radically reduces emissions of climate-changing carbon dioxide compared to conventional brick and concrete block walls – these panels lock up carbon within the homes.
  • The panels are manufactured offsite in Greencore’s own factory in Worminghall near Oxford, benefitting the local economy.
  • The high levels of insulation cut the demand for heating, reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions.
  • Using natural materials, combined with a ventilation system which recovers heat, helps to improve indoor air quality while cutting energy consumption and carbon emissions still further.
  • A management company will be created to look after the shared parts of the development including the green spaces after the homes are completed. This company will be run by the residents and they will be encouraged to continue implementing the One Planet Action Plan, and to regularly review their progress.

Nicole Lazarus, head of Bioregional Oxfordshire, said:

“The Kings Farm Close team richly deserve recognition for their leadership in creating the kind of sustainable new housing we need so badly. We particularly love the natural materials used in the build system and the high-quality indoor environment that they make possible.”

Greencore Construction was set up in 2013 and is best known for its work helping developers, land owners and self-builders to build high performance, low carbon buildings using natural materials, including hemp, lime and timber. Greencore combines a strong scientific approach with its design and construction of beautiful homes with a social conscience. Its team has been involved in specialist building projects for more than 25 years, and is one of the world’s leading authorities on hemp-lime construction.

For further details on Kings Farm Close, Longcot, email enquiries@greencoreconstruction.co.uk

Greencore wins at BSG Health and Safety Awards 2018

The Greencore Construction team has been recognised at the annual Building Safety Group (BSG) Health and Safety Awards for its work to bring healthy and sustainable homes to Oxfordshire.

Greencore won the Environmental category for its Biond construction system, a timber frame panel system that uses all-natural hemp-lime insulation to deliver sustainable homes with high thermal performance and enhanced living comfort.

Greencore’s managing director, Ian Pritchett, said:

“We are very proud to have been awarded the BSG Environmental Award. We work hard to respect the environment, and use low carbon and natural materials to lower environmental impact as much as possible, so it’s great to be recognised for that. I would like to congratulate, as well as thank every member of our team who has worked to contribute to this renowned health and safety award.”

The BSG Health and Safety Awards are held every year and recognise its members’ achievements and excellence in work-related health and safety performance.

BSG’s managing director, Paul Kimpton, said:

“The BSG Awards ceremony was once again a national celebration of our members’ dedicated commitment to health and safety in construction. Recognised award winners such as Greencore Construction should be immensely proud of their achievement and highly commended for their admirable approach to building healthy and sustainable housing.

“It is BSG members like Greencore who make a significant contribution to raising the bar when it comes to health and safety standards across the sector, and we offer them our congratulations.”

To learn more about Greencore’s award-winning construction system, visit www.biond.co.uk.

To learn more about the BSG Health and Safety Awards, visit the BSG website.

Development at Longcot recognised for sustainability leadership

New eco-friendly homes in the Oxfordshire village of Longcot have been recognised by Bioregional for their ‘national leadership in implementing One Planet Living’.

The One Planet Living framework was created by international sustainability charity Bioregional as a system for planning sustainable developments and keeping them on track to achieve their goals.

The 15 new homes in the Kings Farm Close development, which is being built by Greencore, will have near zero-carbon footprints thanks to their use of timber, wood fibre and hemp-lime in the construction process. Emissions of climate-changing carbon dioxide gas caused by their construction are about 90% lower than for a conventional brick-built new home.

In addition, due to their excellent thermal performance, future emissions of carbon dioxide will also be much lower than normal houses as heating requirements will be very low.

The developer, Oxford Advanced Living, also aims to enhance the variety of animal and wildflower species on the land in and around the development which had been used for pasture. A fifth of the site’s total area will be shared green space, planted and managed with native trees to support wildlife.

Kings Farm, Longcot - illustrative proposed site plan
 
At Kings Farm Close, six of the 15 homes – 40% – are designated as affordable, in one of the most expensive regions of Britain. Four of the homes will be let to tenants at below-market rents by Sovereign Housing Association, and two are for shared home ownership, helping people get on the first rung of the property ladder. The other nine homes are for sale on the open market.

The developer and Greencore have drawn up a One Planet Living action plan for the new homes covering all aspects of sustainability – social, economic and environmental. This ambitious plan is based on ten easy-to-grasp One Planet Living principles covering issues such as water, energy, wildlife, waste and contribution to the local economy. National Leadership status was granted after Bioregional reviewed the plan.

The development’s sustainability highlights include:

  • Using timber panels for the walls containing a thick insulation layer made from hemp grown in Yorkshire and lime. Using these panels for construction radically reduces emissions of climate-changing carbon dioxide compared to conventional brick and concrete block walls – these panels lock up carbon within the homes.
  • The panels are manufactured offsite in Greencore’s own nearby factory in Worminghall near Oxford, benefitting the local economy.
  • The high levels of insulation cut the demand for heating, reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions.
  • Using natural materials, combined with a ventilation system which recovers heat, helps to improve indoor air quality while cutting energy consumption and carbon emission still further.
  • A management company will be created to look after the shared parts of the development after the homes are completed; it will be handed over to residents. The company will be run by residents and they will be encouraged to continue implementing the One Planet Action Plan, and to regularly review their progress.

Nicole Lazarus, head of Bioregional Oxfordshire, said: “The Kings Farm Close team richly deserve this One Planet Living recognition for their leadership in creating the kind of sustainable new housing we need so badly. We particularly love the natural materials used in the build system and the high-quality indoor environment that they make possible.”

Alex Brooks, a development manager at Sovereign Housing Association, said: “As we strive to build more much-needed homes, we need to take care to build them sustainably – both for our future residents and our environment. The Kings Farm Close project is a leading example of building truly sustainable, quality places to live and we’re really looking forward to welcoming residents when they pick up the keys to their new homes.”

New eco homes coming to Longcot

Greencore Construction has signed a design and build contract to deliver fifteen new eco homes at Longcot, Oxfordshire for local developer Oxford Advanced Living.

The new homes at Kings Farm Close, Longcot will include six affordable homes and nine open market units. The affordable homes will be sold to a housing association in 2018, and the following nine units will be marketed for sale in late 2018 and early 2019.

All fifteen new homes will be built using Greencore’s proprietary Biond system of offsite timber frame construction, and will target a negative carbon footprint and very low ongoing energy requirement.

The six affordable homes will be built to the same high standards and will be among the best performing affordable homes constructed in 2018, with low energy requirements helping to reduce the living costs for low income residents.

Advanced technology for high energy efficiency

The homes will all have triple glazed wooden framed windows, be ventilated using mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR), and feature underfloor heating. These high performance technologies and materials are designed to maximise health, comfort and economy for the homeowners.

Ian Pritchett, managing director of Greencore Construction, said:

“The Longcot site is our largest project yet, and demonstrates the significant market interest in our design and build service for developers. Passivhaus design principles will allow us to build extremely low energy homes which we know are much in demand in Oxfordshire and which will fit sensitively into this historic village.”

Greencore specialises in helping small developers and self-builders in Oxfordshire build high performance, low carbon buildings using natural materials. These homes are designed to provide better health at home, thanks to improved indoor air quality and living comfort, and significant environmental and energy-saving benefits.

For further details on Kings Farm Close, Longcot, email enquiries@greencoreconstruction.co.uk

Greencore recognised for product innovation at Structural Timber Awards 2017

Greencore Construction has been awarded Highly Commended in the Product Innovation category at this year’s Structural Timber Awards.

The awards, which took place on 10 October at the National Conference Centre, Birmingham, saw the Oxford-based housebuilder recognised for its Biond Construction System, which Greencore uses to build all its homes.

The Biond system is an offsite, closed-panel timber frame construction process and incorporates high-performance, natural insulation materials to deliver low ongoing energy requirements for homeowners.

The system has been scrutinised, tested and improved by a three-year EU eco-innovation programme led by the University of Bath, which was completed in August 2016.

Ian Pritchett, managing director of Greencore Construction, says:

“During thermal performance testing, the Biond Construction System has shown that it can outperform brick and block construction by almost 400%. What’s more, we estimate that we’ve saved 420 tonnes of CO² through the use of natural materials in the 12 superstructures we built in 2016.

“We’re extremely proud to have been recognised for these achievements at this year’s Structural Timber Awards.”

> Learn more about the Biond Construction System

> Download our free guide and discover the benefits of building with Biond

Greencore lifts the lid on the true cost of building a house on your own land

A straight-talking new guide on the true cost of self-build projects has been published by Oxford-based housebuilder Greencore Construction.

Aimed at helping all aspiring self-builders who have already secured a plot of land, the guide sets out the five most important aspects of costing a project, provides a detailed breakdown of costs for a range of house sizes, and gives advice on how to achieve the holy grail of cost certainty through good design.

Ian Pritchett, managing director of Greencore Construction, says:

“We often get asked about how much it really costs to build a house. Not the under-estimated quote that most self-builders get at the start of a project to hook them in, but the real cost including good quality kitchens and bathrooms, external works like patio and planting, and everything else bar the curtains.

“Unfortunately, it’s common practice for many builders to underbid to win the project, but then make their money on costly alterations to the design later in the process. In contrast at Greencore, when a clear specification has been agreed, we can offer a fixed price guarantee on most of our projects.

“That’s why we are publishing the real costs for everyone to see. Once the design is done we can quote an accurate fixed price, and we strongly believe that having the right design from the beginning is the key to a successful self-build. Cost certainty is what all self-build customers want and deserve.”

Free advice for self-builders

The free guide also provides advice on procurement routes and project management, and on how to prioritise the most important elements of a building in the budgeting process.

A chart then provides typical build costs for a high performance, comfortable and sustainable home built to premium quality by Greencore in the Oxfordshire area. Costs are typically about £1,800 per square metre, which means about £180,000 for a typical 2-3 bed home, not including design fees and any abnormal site-specific costs.

> Download The True Cost of Building a House

Greencore Construction specialises in helping self-builders and small developers in Oxfordshire build high performance, low carbon buildings using natural materials. These homes are designed to provide better health at home, thanks to improved indoor air quality and living comfort, and significant environmental and energy-saving benefits.

High performance homes to be built on new development at Marcham

Greencore Construction has signed a design and build contract to deliver three new eco homes at Marcham, near Abingdon, for local developer Oxford Advanced Living.

The three new homes will all be built using Greencore’s proprietary Biond system of offsite timber frame construction, and will target a negative carbon footprint and very low ongoing energy requirement.

Advanced technology for high energy efficiency

Due to go on sale early in 2018, the new homes at Walnut Mews on Mill Road, Marcham include a pair of three-bedroom semi-detached homes in grounds, plus a single two-bed house with a beautiful stone frontage on the former site of an old workshop.

The homes will all be built using Greencore’s proprietary Biond system of offsite timber frame construction, a highly environmentally sustainable system which has been tested and monitored in an international research project by the University of Bath.

They will feature high performance technologies and materials, designed to maximise health, comfort and economy for the homeowners.

Ian Pritchett, managing director of Greencore Construction, said:

“The Marcham site is just the first of several new eco home developments that we will be progressing over the next six months. Passivhaus design principles will allow us to build extremely low energy homes which we know are much in demand in Oxfordshire and which will fit sensitively into this historic village.”

Greencore specialises in helping small developers and self-builders in Oxfordshire build high performance, low carbon buildings using natural materials. These homes are designed to provide better health at home, thanks to improved indoor air quality and living comfort, and significant environmental and energy-saving benefits.

For further details on Walnut Mews, email enquiries@greencoreconstruction.co.uk

Greencore signs open letter in response to government’s Industrial Strategy consultation

Greencore Construction was pleased to add its name to a list of signatories in response to the government’s Industrial Strategy consultation.

The letter was sent to government on behalf of a group of organisations, companies and individuals engaged in the UK bioeconomy.

Read the full letter to government below.

Dear Industrial Strategy Team,

This is a response to the government’s Industrial Strategy consultation from a group of organisations and individuals engaged in the UK bioeconomy.

In our view, development of a viable and competitive UK bioeconomy can contribute to a wide range of strategic Government objectives, bringing benefits to the economy, environment and society alike. These can be broadly summarised as:

• Improving economic competitiveness through the development of innovative high value added products, combining natural diversity with the UK’s world class science and technology base to generate new business and high skilled jobs

• Benefiting the environment and human health by helping to mitigate and adapt to climate change, cutting waste and pollution, helping biodiversity and contributing to resource efficiency, particularly by reducing our dependency on fossil fuels and encouraging circular economy friendly models.

• Producing wider social benefits by stimulating rural and urban economies, to establish globally competitive industries, providing improved employment opportunities and increased consumer choice.

We hope that Government takes account of the views from emerging technologies and new value chains and will take this opportunity to announce a series of commitments towards building a sustainable bioeconomy.

We call on you to take a lead in delivering the following general commitments:

1. Create a cross government bioeconomy team to reduce regulatory barriers (Pillar 10). This will require a holistic, forward thinking approach and will need to address areas of tension and conflict. It will also enable government to consider further the role low carbon renewable materials can play in meeting GHG reduction targets. We see the need for agreement across Government to address these key opportunities and priorities instead of the current fragmented approach.

2. Encourage inward investment in smart materials through tax benefits: (Pillar 6,7) as stated on page 15 of the green paper ‘we have not been as successful at commercialisation and development as we have been at basic research’. A review of the EIS , especially in the light of changes to state aid rules that will arise from Brexit, could make the UK as attractive to invest in as the USA. This will create an opportunity for the UK to accelerate development of smart materials from biobased feedstocks which are multi-functional and have viable end of life solutions.

3. Use our existing resources better by driving innovation (Pillars 1, 5, 8) Sustainable use of resources requires innovation and fresh approaches. Development of sustainable yet high value products and support for regional/ local bio based supply chains is needed.

For example, identification and development of new protein sources and products for the human and animal food chain will have the added benefit of improving health and wellness, creating new technologies and reducing reliance on less sustainable imported material. This will allow the sector to build on current expertise in agriculture, food, industrial biotechnology, processing, engineering, nutrition and consumer acceptability.

Innovation funding calls need to be wider and less specific to capture all areas of the bioeconomy. The recipients need to be more diverse as we are aiming for global products.

4. Support a government biobased procurement policy (Pillar 5). Government could stimulate market pull through reviewing procurement and introducing criteria like whole life cycle evaluation to assess the optimal end of life options for products used by government departments. It will also stimulate business models that will support the bioeconomy/circular economy (for example if different companies need to work together to be able to access each other’s waste streams).

Commitments such as these will not only send a clear message about the UK’s commitment to the bioeconomy at home, but will demonstrate the level of UK ambition to the Commonwealth and other future trading partners and inward investors.

Yours sincerely,

List of signatories

Housing White Paper indicates strong support for self-builders

A number of measures have been outlined in the government’s Housing White Paper which could make life easier for custom and self-builders, local authorities and developers.

The policy paper, which was released in February, sets out the government’s plans to reform the housing market and boost the supply of new homes in England. It highlights the simple fact that not enough homes are being built. It also suggests that greater opportunities should be given to those who are willing and able to make a difference.

PM Theresa May said: “We will diversify the housing market, opening it up to smaller builders and those who embrace innovative and efficient measures.”

However, a healthy dose of realism is also present in the paper. It states that the number of new homes registered by small builders is down from 44,000 in 2007 to just 18,000 in 2015 – a direct result of the credit crisis and the shrinkage in the population of small builders.

In response, the government has again indicated strong support for the custom and self-build market, with a commitment to promote the National Custom and Self Build Association’s (NaCSBA) Right to Build portal.

Greencore Construction’s managing director, Ian Pritchett, commented: “Clearly this slow-down in housebuilding will take years to reverse. It’s not helped by the fact that many small builders have now retired and will not come back into the industry. Skills and experience have been lost and will not be replaced quickly.

“It’s vital that those involved in the custom build market do their bit to promote and support positive change. We have links to the Right to Build portal on Greencore’s website and are also exploring how best we can support self-builders and custom builders at development projects such as Graven Hill in Oxfordshire.”

The paper also suggests that support will be given to housing associations to encourage them to build more.

“This is great news for housing associations,” said Ian. “Greencore is keen to work with housing associations in Oxfordshire and the surrounding area to develop new sites in sustainable and cost-effective ways.”

Delighted buyers and increased demand mark record year for Greencore Construction

2016 was a record year for the Oxfordshire firm, as demand for its build offsite, hemp-lime panelised homes continues to soar.

Martin Pike, Greencore’s chairman, said: “We made great progress in 2016. Our factory team built 12 superstructures, and we delivered and erected eight at various sites across Oxfordshire.

“This marks a significant increase in output compared with 2015 and shows how quickly the market for offsite, low-carbon house construction is growing.”

Delighted buyers

2016 also saw two of Greencore’s exemplar properties become home to delighted buyers.

Greencore home owner Dominic Newland said: “The comfort factor in our new home is just amazing. Even in November the house maintained a steady 23 degrees – without the heating on!”

He added: “The house is built to such a high standard. In fact, our surveyor said, ‘All houses should be built like this’.”

CO2 saving

On the low-carbon benefits of Greencore’s output last year, Martin said: “Compared to building with traditional brick and block, we estimate that we’ve saved 420 tonnes of CO2 through the use of natural materials in the 12 superstructures we built last year.

“Of course, those units will also deliver CO2 savings in the region of 40 tons per year through their low energy requirements – a saving that will continue for many years to come.”

Hemp-lime research

In 2016 Greencore also completed its collaborative research project with Bath University.

The project, which aims to gather data on the performance of hemp-lime panels compared with other forms of building materials, will have its findings published as part of a full report in summer 2017.

Bright future

Greencore already has a strong pipeline for 2017 and is actively considering how best to scale up its activity.

On Greencore’s growing business, Martin said: “With a continuing housing shortage in Oxfordshire and across the UK, the need to improve energy performance, and the importance of reducing CO2 emissions, our business is well placed to deliver against the strong market demand.

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