Springfield Meadows wins a double at the Structural Timber Awards

Springfield Meadows, the UK’s leading sustainable housing development, has been awarded Timber Frame Project of the Year and Custom and Self-Build Project of the Year at the Structural Timber Awards. The site consists of 25 beautiful homes, including nine managed by Sovereign Housing Association and is a fully Climate Positive development, with net-zero energy and better-than-zero carbon.

In winning the two awards, presented to Ian Pritchett by Mark Durden Smith, the eco housing development beat four other projects shortlisted for each of the titles. Shortlisted contenders for the title were judged on their use of timber throughout the development, how the homes achieved the visions of its prospective buyers, and the ways in which the team worked to achieve a seamless, defect-free project. Ian Pritchett, Managing Director of Greencore Construction, collected the prize, which was judged by a panel including members of the Structural Timber Association and the New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering.

James Pritchett of Greencore Construction said: “We are thrilled to have won two of the three awards we were shortlisted for at the Structural Timber Awards. It closely follows our win at the OxProp Awards, where we were awarded Best Residential Development in Oxfordshire.

22 of the sustainable homes at Springfield Meadows are now sold with two under offer and just one available for sale. The homes, which are all net-zero energy and have a better-than-zero carbon footprint, were developed using Greencore’s Biond system.

Biond is a closed timber framed panel that is insulated with lime-hemp and wood-fibre insulation. The external wall panels lock up 32kg of CO2e per m2 of wall, so its impact on the environment out-performs almost all other construction systems.

Early buyers at Springfield Meadows had the opportunity to custom-build the design of their home, including alternative floorplans, kitchens, bathrooms, and battery storage. The development is pioneering its fully-electric car club, which is available to residents and all the houses have triple glazed windows, PV panels, and are built to the Passivhaus energy standard.

Bioregional, the environmental charity, has recognised the scheme’s attributes, awarding it One Planet Global Leader status. The certificate champions a holistic approach to new-build developments, ensuring that they are sustainable, environmentally friendly, and landscape-led to respect existing nature in the area.

The Structural Timber Awards is a flagship industry event that rewards and celebrates excellence in response to the impact of climate change and the use of sustainable structural timber systems. The awards see exponential growth each year, as the industry progresses in its battle to reduce carbon emissions in the construction sector. Companies at the forefront of the industry enter to win the prestigious awards, with categories covering healthcare, social housing, engineering, and installation. It recognises the design and technology that makes these inspiring projects possible.

Oxford architects, builders and environmental groups call on councils to speed up progress on energy-efficient homes

The six members of the Oxfordshire Zero Carbon Homes (OZCHI) partnership* have written to the leaders of all six Oxfordshire councils calling for rapid action to ensure that all new buildings across the county are built to ‘zero carbon’ standards.  The letter is attached.

This follows the proposal in the current Oxfordshire 2050 Plan consultation (Policy 1) that  supports the objective of “net zero whole life carbon for both residential and non-residential” buildings.

However this Plan will not come into effect until 2023 at the earliest.  OZCHI members wish to see some real progress made on this issue before then and to ensure that this issue is not parked for two years.  The letter points out that:

  1. The County, City and District councils are now able to set more demanding local building regulations, which go beyond the current national building regulations.  The councils could and should work together to establish a common set of local standards that will be clear to architects and developers.Starting work on this now would send a clear message and set the scene for the 2050 Plan when agreed.
  2. Up to 100,000 new houses are planned for Oxfordshire in the next 10 years. Our councils and government are all committed to ‘zero carbon’ targets. The University of Manchester Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research has published the total ‘carbon budgets’ for each Local Authority in the UK if they are to do their fair share in reaching the national target. The budgets for the five district and city Local Authorities within Oxfordshire add up to a budget of 26.3MT (million tonnes) of allowable emissions (up to 2100).
  • Cherwell District Council                                                                   7.3MT
  • West Oxfordshire District Council                                                   3.7MT
  • South Oxfordshire District Council                                                  5.6MT
  • Vale of the White Horse District Council                                       5.2MT
  • Oxford City Council                                                                            4.5MT

 

Each new house built in the traditional way to meet current Building Regulations will be responsible for around 200 tonnes of emissions. Thus some 80% of Oxfordshire’s carbon budget may be wasted by building unsustainable houses that will need to be upgraded to future standards before too long.

OZCHI is also suggesting that the councils should set up an ‘Oxfordshire Zero Carbon Homes Innovation Zone’ to tackle the obstacles that exist, develop skills and training, and promote the emerging good practice taking place in Oxfordshire and across the UK.

Speaking for OZCHI Chris Church said: “We urgently need government action to cut energy waste in our homes. But this is a case where ‘local can lead’:  our councils have the power to set standards in line with their zero commitments, and make Oxfordshire a real centre for positive innovation. The 2050 Plan goal is welcome, but we should be acting  now.”

*  The six members of the Oxfordshire Zero Carbon Homes Initiative (OZCHI) partnership are:

  • Developer: Greencore Construction
  • Architects: Jessop & Cook; Sowspace; Transition by Design
  • Environmental organisations:  Bioregional;  Oxford Friends of the Earth

See:  https://www.oxfoe.co.uk/ozchi/  for more information including materials from  the county-wide seminar held by OZCHI in July.

Springfield Meadows UK’s Leading Sustainable Property Project Takes Top Accolade at OxProp Awards

On Thursday 9th September, Springfield Meadows scooped the OxProp Award for Best Residential Development in Oxfordshire. Springfield Meadows is the UK’s most sustainable private residential property development site consisting of 25 beautiful homes, including nine managed by Sovereign Housing Association.

In winning the award, the eco-living site beat five other Oxfordshire developments shortlisted for the title. Ssassy Property and Greencore Construction – the developers of Springfield Meadows development in Southmoor – collected the prize, which was judged by members of the UK Property Forum, Bicester Heritage and presented by Olympic rower Greg Searle.

Greg Searle MBE, Olypic Rower presented the award to James Pritchett and Ian Pritchett

22 of the sustainable homes at Springfield Meadows are now sold with two under offer and just one available off. The homes that are all net-zero energy and better-than-zero carbon footprint, were developed using Greencore’s Biond system. Biond is a closed timber framed panel that is insulated with Lime-Hemp & wood-fibre insulation. The external wall panels lock up 32kg of CO2e per m2 of wall meaning that it out-performs almost all other construction systems in its impact on the environment. Early buyers had the opportunity to custom-build the design of their home, including alternative floorplans, kitchens, bathrooms and battery storage. The development is pioneering with its fully electric car club which is available to residents and all the houses have triple glazed windows, PV panels and are built the Passivhaus energy standard.

All of the OxProp 2021 Winners

 

Ian Pritchett, Managing Director of Greencore Construction said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have won the ‘Best Residential Development’ award. We set out to build the most sustainable residential development in the country, an exemplar for others to follow, and we think we have achieved this. Unless the house building industry drastically reduces its carbon impact we will squander the allocated carbon budgets long before 2050. We’ve also worked with BBOWT – the local wildlife trust to help us increase the biodiversity of the site they designed the landscaping and communal gardens and will monitor the development for the next 5 years, a first for a developer.”

Bioregional, the environmental charity, has recognised the scheme’s attributes by awarding it One Planet Global Leader status. The certificate champions a holistic approach to new-build developments, ensuring that they are sustainable, environmentally friendly, and landscape-led to respect existing nature in the area.

The OxProp Awards are part of OxPropFest, an event tailored to the property, science, and innovation community from The Arc, Buckinghamshire, and Oxfordshire regions. It brings these disciplines together for a day of networking, knowledge-sharing, and celebration.

Springfield Meadows spurs green living with One Planet Living event

The UK’s most sustainable property development site, Springfield Meadows in Oxfordshire, has hosted the first ever One Planet Living community event. Organised by Ssassy Property and Greencore Construction, on Wednesday 15th September residents were able to chat with One Planet Living about how to green their living habits further, with myenergi to discuss all things renewable energy in the home, including Zappi car charging points and the local Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) who will monitor the wildlife and biodiversity of the project for the next 5 years and report back to the residents. All residents have also been given complimentary BBOWT membership when they moved into their new house.

The zappi charger by myenergi will charge the 2 Nissan Leaf’s included in the electric car club.

Representatives from all companies were also on hand to take residents through the biodiversity measures that have been implemented, as well as the carbon performance of the site and the electric car club. This followed the Springfield Meadows Open Day for prospective buyers to get their hands on the keys to the last remaining available property.

Green living and sustainable construction sets Springfield Meadows apart from most UK residential property developments. Currently, it is thought to be the UK’s leading sustainable private residential property development. What’s more, it is now becoming one of the most thriving communities for residents – both in the houses and outside in the wildlife areas.

Residents had presentations from Bioregional, BBOWT and myenergi.

Ian Pritchett and James Pritchett of Ssassy Property and Greencore Construction delivered an update to residents on progress at Springfield Meadows before handing over to Bioregional, who shared the One Planet Living framework and action plan with residents. Residents also had the opportunity to try out HIYA electric cars, and found out more about wildlife features for gardens with BBOWT.

In 2019, Springfield Meadows was awarded Bioregional’s One Planet Living Global Leader status. The certificate champions a holistic approach to new-build developments, ensuring that they are sustainable, environmentally friendly, and landscape-led to respect existing nature in the area.

James Pritchett of Greencore Construction said: “With only one home left on the market at Springfield Meadows, we’re pleased with how positive the response has been to this sustainable development. Our buyers are outstanding in their commitment to uphold this respect for nature and sustainability in the community.”

‘We’ll use our technology to build 500 homes and drive a green revolution in housebuilding’ Oxford company vows

Despite the government having declared a climate emergency, almost every new home being built around the country is making the problem worse.

The construction industry has the technology to build to extremely high standards of eco-performance, but thousands of new houses will need to be retro-fitted in the near future to meet the government’s legally binding target to bring the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050.

Springfield Meadows in Southmoor
A CGI of one of the zero-carbon homes being built at Springfield Meadows in Southmoor. Pic: Greencore Construction

As buildings account for half of all CO2 emissions, the Future Homes Standard (FHS) consultation paper, due to come into force in 2025, proposes to ban fossil fuel heating systems such as gas boilers in favour of low-carbon alternatives.

However, many volume housebuilders and developers are carrying on exactly as before in a situation described as ‘crazy’, by Oxfordshire-based Greencore Construction, whose zero-carbon, zero-energy houses easily exceed 2050 targets.

Springfield Meadows
Construction has started at zero-carbon development Springfield Meadows. Pic: Greencore Construction.

Greencore’s managing director Ian Pritchett says his team has proved it’s possible to build to this standard at fractionally more cost than traditional methods and completion times are significantly quicker. The next step, he believes, is to persuade the volume house builders to follow suit, so the benefits can be scaled-up.

He says: “As the construction industry, we can do more than almost any other sector to address climate change. We know we can build houses that have zero carbon footprint and zero carbon emissions, so it’s crazy to build houses today that are going to need retrofitting in the next few years. We’ve got to be building houses now that hit those targets.”

He adds: “Our purpose is to accelerate the global transition to low-carbon living, and we’re going to do that by scaling-up the delivery of low-carbon homes until they can no longer be ignored by the mainstream.”

This month sees the completion of the first seven of Greencore’s 25-home development at Springfield Meadows in Southmoor near Abingdon. As the first housing scheme in the UK to be zero carbon at construction stage, as well as zero energy and zero emissions in use, it’s already received much national media attention.

Greencore’s previous scheme of 15 ‘near-zero’ homes at Kings Farm Close at Longcot in the Vale of White Horse is also just weeks away from completion. Opened by former Wantage MP and Culture Secretary Ed Vaizey in March last year, it’s been praised for implementing Bioregional’s One Planet Living framework.

Greencore’s managing director Ian Pritchett. Pic: Greencore.

Pritchett’s willingness to publicly criticise volume national housebuilders is helped by the fact he’s an industry outsider and an archetype ‘disrupter’. While studying for a physics degree at Durham University, he worked on building sites during holidays and decided construction was “more fun than physics”. His career began focusing on the repair of historic buildings until the  mid-1990s, when he applied lime render to what was one of the first straw-bale new-builds in the country. A few years later, he came across an architect in Suffolk mixing lime and hemp  together and remembers thinking: “Great technology, we should be involved in that.” This triggered the start of 12 years’ scientific research into lime and hemp, working with Bath University.

He co-founded Greencore Construction in 2013, with chairman and Oxford University maths graduate Martin Pike, and as part of an EU-funded research project they developed their proprietary Biond construction system.

Greencore’s zero carbon homes are designed at the company’s offices in Culham Innovation Centre. Timber panels for the walls, containing a thick insulation layer made from hemp mixed with lime, are made at the firm’s factory near Wheatley.

As well as reducing CO2 emissions compared to traditional bricks and cement mortar, the panels lock-up carbon within the homes and the high levels of insulation mean virtually no heating or cooling is needed, again cutting energy consumption and carbon emissions.

“The natural environment already has a carbon-capture and storage mechanism. It’s called plants and trees,” Pritchett jokes.

It’s not just trees that capture and store carbon, as he points out, it’s all types of plants. And the faster they grow, the more they lock-up CO2. Industrial hemp takes just 14 weeks, from planting seeds to harvesting a three-to-four metres-high crop.

“It locks up carbon faster than trees, or almost anything else on the planet,” Pritchett adds.

Electricity for Greencore homes is generated from photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof, which can be stored in a battery. This is combined with mechanical ventilation with heat recovery and mini heat pumps to generate heating and hot water. There are also plans to incorporate electric vehicle (EV) charging points.

Pritchett says: “As a result of what we’ve done at Springfield Meadows, even though it’s probably the greenest scheme in the country, there are things we could do better next time.

“Everything we’ve done so far has been about minimising the negative impact on the environment, but can we turn it on its head and make every new house have a positive impact on the environment? We think we can.”

Six of the zero-carbon homes constructed by Greencore at Longcot were affordable housing, and there are nine affordable zero-carbon homes being built at Springfield Meadows, in partnership with Sovereign Housing Association.

Sovereign says it will continue to work with Greencore on future developments, and is carrying out a detailed review of its homes ‘…to look at their environmental footprint and performance and setting a standard for all new and existing homes to achieve’.

It adds: ‘This is a huge undertaking and we’ll face some challenges, as it will involve reviewing and assessing our entire stock, which includes a variety of types and ages of homes. However, this work will not only have a positive environmental impact but will also create cost savings on running a home that can be passed to our residents’.

Housing at Elmsbrook, NW Bicester. Pic: OxLEP

Oxfordshire is already firmly on the zero-carbon housing map thanks to Elmsbrook – the UK’s first eco-town. As the first phase of the NW Bicester scheme, Elmsbrook includes 393 zero-carbon homes developed using Bioregional’s One Planet Living framework and is a joint venture between housing association A2Dominion and national housebuilder Crest Nicholson. Homes are fitted with solar PV roof panels, rainwater harvesting systems and EV charge points. Heating and hot water is provided via a heating district network connected to a combined heat and power (CHP) energy centre. The overall scheme of 6,000 homes at NW Bicester is due to be completed by 2030.

Bioregional has been involved with Elmsbrook for almost a decade. Programme manager Lewis Knight describes it as “a really special development” and underlines its importance as “a true zero-carbon development at scale”.

A number of low-carbon and zero-carbon homes is also the pipeline at the UK’s largest custom- and self-build housing project Graven Hill, also near Bicester. Beattie’s Passive Flying factory was set up in 2017 on the 1,900 plot site to help those wanting to self-build Passivhaus standard houses.

Jonathan Finnerty
Jonathan Finnerty and the Green Unit ARC. Pic: Green Unit

Another Oxfordshire-based pioneer is Green Unit co-founder, Jonathan Finnerty. The firm’s ultra-low carbon curved engineered timber pod design, the ARC, is single-storey with a wildflower ‘living’ roof, and uses natural materials such as sheep’s wool insulation. Constructed offsite, it is fitted out with plumbing and electrics before being craned into place where needed. Finnerty started a trial last month to install clean energy company Verditek’s lightweight solar panels on the roof of the ARC pods, which can be used for housing, offices, classrooms and holiday units. Finnerty also believes the ARC could be part of the solution to the city’s homeless crisis.

Last year heralded a significant change in consumer attitudes, thanks to ‘The Greta effect,’ Greencore’s Pritchett believes.

“We weren’t shouting much about the eco-credentials of our houses 12-18 months ago, because we didn’t think it made much difference. Now it’s at the top of the list, because there’s been a massive change in public awareness in the past year,” he says.

Greencore aims to deliver 500 ‘climate-positive’ houses during the next five years in the hope that this will act as a catalyst for the rest of the house building industry to follow suit.

He is confident that if more housebuyers become aware of the benefits of carbon reduction and lower energy bills, they will begin to put pressure on volume house builders.

In its FHS consultation paper, the government’s preferred option is for double glazing, low-carbon heating and power generation such as solar panels, which would result in a 31 per cent improvement in emissions and save the average household £257 a year.

There is also a drive to ‘tighten up’ the situation around building regulations, which mean national housebuilders who obtained planning consent many years ago are still building to those requirements. This is relatively common, because many housing sites are ‘built out’ over a number of years.

The FHS paper states: “It cannot be right that new homes are being built to old standards introduced in 2010 or even 2006. It means occupiers do not benefit from the levels of energy efficiency and bill savings they would expect from a brand-new home. It also means new homes are contributing more carbon dioxide emissions than should be expected, which has an impact on climate change.”

Greencore’s Pritchett is blunt: “We can’t carry on with business as usual, we have an emergency and an emergency demands a response. The first thing is wanting to do it, and not everybody wants to. A lot of people put profit, rather than doing the right thing, at the top of the list. Then, it’s knowing how to do it but once you’ve done it a few times, you realise it’s not that difficult. We want to share the knowledge we’ve gained and say: ‘It’s not that difficult – anybody could be doing it’.”

As part of his mission to “change the construction industry forever” last month Pritchett brought together more than 50 town planners, land-owners, investors, architects and representatives from local councils and housing associations for the launch of the One Planet Oxfordshire Construction Plan at Culham Science Centre.

Speakers at the half-day conference included Greencore’s Martin Pike, Bioregional’s Lewis Knight and Good Homes Alliance vice chairman Mike Roberts.

Volume housebuilders are dragging their heels partly because they have long-established supply chains in place. Switching to zero-carbon would mean a complete transformation in terms of materials, skills and culture.

According to the Housing Ministry’s impact assessment, building to the government’s preferred FHS option would add almost £5,000 to the cost of building each home. Also, construction industry trade associations point out there may not be enough trained installers for heat pumps, or other low-carbon heating tech.

Pritchett argues that as well as legislative pressure, there’s a need for incentives, such as variable Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) or stamp duty. In the same way electric cars are not required to pay road tax, housebuilders who build passive houses and zero carbon houses could be exempt from CIL.

Lewis Knight of Bioregional. Pic: Oxfordshire Greentech

Bioregional’s Lewis Knight agrees there needs to be a paradigm shift in the way the construction industry builds homes, across supply chains and employee skills if we are to see tens of thousands of new zero-carbon homes a year, rather than the painfully small numbers that are actually built.

“You will always have great people who want to do the right thing but there needs to be a regulatory stick that will drive up standards,” he says.

And he warns: “It sounds quite dramatic but every home we don’t build to zero-carbon now, we’re locking in a retro-fit problem we will need to pick up in future generations.

“Every home now not being built to zero-carbon standard is creating emissions that will have to be dealt with 14-15 years down the line. We’re making big decisions now that will have consequences for a very long time into the future.”

This blog post was originally posted on Tech Tribe by Gill Oliver

Calls for Oxfordshire to deliver climate-positive homes

Businesses in Oxfordshire have said the region’s plans to go carbon neutral do not go far enough – arguing that all new homes should be “carbon-positive.”

Greencore Construction, which is behind a number of eco-friendly homes in the area, presented its “One Planet Oxfordshire Construction Plan” to over 120 delegates at an event last week.

Focused on the construction process as well as resource and energy use, the plan has been designed to complement the work of the One Planet Oxfordshire framework, developed by Bioregional and adopted by Oxfordshire County Council.

The event was hosted at Culham Science Centre and chaired by Greencore Construction chairman Martin Pike.

He said: “We believe that we need to act quickly in order to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, and we want to set an example for others to follow.

“The construction sector can go much further and faster when it comes to combating climate change. If not us, who? If not now, when?”

Fellow Greencore Construction director Ian Pritchett added that the current approach to housing is based on avoiding negative environmental impact, rather than seeing if positive gains can be made.

He said: “No one has all the answers and it’s important that we collaborate and work together on this to be successful and deliver major change, at scale.

“With the ambitions already declared in Oxfordshire, it seems like the perfect place to lead the way.”

One Planet Living: A framework for Net Zero

The One Planet Living Framework includes areas that developments should consider from community health and happiness to energy use and conservation.

Lewis Knight, Programme Manager at Bioregional, presented BedZED as an example of best practice that used the framework. Completed in 2002, the south London development comprises 100 homes and a range of sustainability focused measures.

He called for more examples of best practice today and argued that the framework needs to be adopted at a city-wide level to help the UK meet carbon net zero targets.

Setting standards for homes

Mike Roberts from Good Homes Alliance also spoke at the event, sharing the history of the various codes and sustainability standards introduced over the 15 years. He highlighted the importance of the consultation on the Future Homes Standard, as it offered a chance for the industry to “get it right” when it comes to the environment.

Driving change through community action

The final guest speakers of the day were Nina Alphey and Tom Parkinson from Westmill Solar Coop, a solar farm located near to Watchfield on the Wiltshire/Oxfordshire border. They described how energy generation had made their community more self-sufficient and allowed them to share surplus power back to the grid, creating a net-positive gain.

Springfield Meadows featured in Oxfordshire Limited Edition

Published in December’s issue of Oxfordshire Limited Edition Magazine, Denise Barkley interviewed Greencore and Ssassy Property director, Ian Pritchett, about Springfield Meadows, a zero carbon development being built by Greencore at Southmoor, Oxfordshire.

In the article, Denise writes: “Developers Ssassy Property are 30 years ahead of the Government’s 2050 zero-carbon target at Springfield Meadows in Southmoor, where 25 sustainable homes are under construction.

“These attractive new timber-clad houses, built by Ssassy’s construction partner Greencore, are as stylishly good-looking as they are environmentally-friendly. On offer are 16 custom-build plots, allowing the buyers to choose their floor layouts, kitchens and bathrooms, plus nine affordable homes designed and constructed to the same meticulously high standard.”

Read the full article here.

Plots selling fast at Springfield Meadows

Just eight plots out of 25 are left for sale at Springfield Meadows, a development of brand new eco-homes being built by Greencore Construction at the site in Oxfordshire.

The development, which is expected to complete by the end of 2020, has seen an upswing in sales over the summer, with 12 plots now sold and a further five plots reserved. The remaining eight plots can accommodate two- to five-bed houses and are attracting good interest.

Springfield Meadows has proved popular with families, such as the Shepherds, who recently finalised their plot sale.

Alison Shepherd said: “What first attracted us was the fact we could do a custom build, which was a dream we’ve always had. The zero carbon footprint was important to us as we have the environment in mind and this is our bit.”

Part exchange

To make it easier for buyers to purchase their sustainable future home, the site’s developer, Ssassy Property, has launched a new part-exchange service, removing the hassle of long chains and additional estate agent fees.

Clive Maple, director at Ssassy, said: “We are delighted with the progress of our sales at Springfield Meadows. Our home buyers are explicitly choosing our development due to the ability to customise their home and for the outstanding green credentials that we have.

“Helping our buyers to purchase their home is important to us, which is why we are now able to offer a part-exchange option. Each day we are getting more enquiries and we expect there to be more interest as construction progresses.”

Affordable homes and biodiversity

All the homes at Springfield Meadows sit in generously sized plots fronting onto a number of shared spaces, including a wildflower meadow, orchard, and pond, all designed to maximise biodiversity.

The 16 custom-build plots at Springfield Meadows will be built alongside nine affordable homes, which will be constructed to the same high standard for Sovereign Housing Association.

As with all Greencore homes, the properties at Springfield Meadows will be built to Passivhaus energy efficiency standards with zero carbon emissions, making them both comfortable and healthy to live in.

To register your interest and to visit the site, please email James Pritchett at james@ssassyproperty.co.uk.

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.

Read more about Kings Farm Close at the UK Construction blog.

To speak to us about 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.