Last year HLM’s entry for the Home of 2030 Competition was one of 6 shortlisted from a field of more than 200 to be further developed as an exemplar for Homes England and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Governement (MHCLG).
In developing our proposals it was important for us to acknowledge the government’s published response to the Future Homes Standard consultation, where new homes are expected to achieve a 31% reduction in carbon emissions from 2021. However, we set ourselves a challenge to significantly exceed this target.
To achieve these bold ambitions, HLM partnered with leading sustainability experts Daryl Fisher from HLM Greenbuild, a sustainable building consultancy; and Dan Beynon from Hydrock, a multi-disciplinary engineering practice. In addition, our team was augmented by the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield, and Mid Group, a cutting-edge offsite contractor.
The design proposals that emerged imagined flexible, affordable, and sustainable ‘forever’ homes, providing great places to live – and work! – that support the development of stable communities where people can invest in their homes which are able to expand and contract with the life changes of those who live in them. This approach promotes putting down roots in a place, developing social and community coherence. Furthermore, the ‘forever home’ concept stimulates a circular economy through the use of modularised systems that enable homes to be adapted with construction components able to be sold back into the eco-system of supply-chain parts for re-use. This means that home owners can realise the value in their homes without ever moving – meaning the costs associated with moving house several times can be invested in the quality of the home instead.
The ‘forever home’ concept imagines an exemplar home for 2030. One that contributes positively to the goal of a zero carbon society, reducing lifecycle emissions well within the RIBA 2030 targets, and achieving operational net zero carbon.
A Live-Work Home
As well as focusing on the building itself our design proposals considered how homes and their owners/ occupiers can develop stronger communities. The concept of a ‘forever home’ is to enable people to chose to stay in a neighbourhood as their needs change over their lives. Our proposal places a strong emphaiss on community interaction. Dense terraces with development space ‘baked-in’ to the proposals mean that space can be created for community use. It facilitates the creation of community building at the heart of the neighbourhood, by providing green space and by encouraging walking and cycling by design, facilitating active streets and social interaction. As we shift towards more agile working, the ability to work from home or work in a flexible community workspace reduces the need for long commutes, therefore reducing carbon released from transport.
Reducing carbon emissions associated with our homes while maintaining comfort and low running costs demands a focus on efficiency. Our ‘forever home’ focuses on a ‘fabric first’ approach with excellent u-values for floors, walls and roofs , high quality triple-glazed windows, minimising thermal bridging and targeting airtightness rates that achieve PassivHaus standards.
To support excellent indoor air quality and minimise heat loss from the home, a highly efficient mechanical heat recovery ventilation unit has been adopted, recovering approx 90% of the heat from extracted air to heat the fresh supply air.
These key approaches are supplemented by gentle engineering air source heat pumps providing hot water and space heatingwhich, when coupled to low temperature under floor heating, allows the heat pump to operate at its most efficient. Flexibility within the manifold system also allows for additional rooms to be easily ‘plugged-in’ to the system as the home evolves with its owner.
Photovolatic (PV) panels on each roof provide what little energy is required to this super-efficient homes, reducing carbon and running costs for the homeowner. The PV area is calculated to balance the operational energy and carbon of the home with the option for homeowners to install additional PVs to generate electricity for an electric vehicle, for storage in batteries to balance demand spikes, or to sell as part of a micro grid.
The solution ensures that systems are user friendly and easy to control. These simple controls can optionally be enhanced through smart home technology utilising sensors and controls to monitor temperature, humidity and CO2; adjusting heating, ventilation and lighting to optimise user comfort and wellbeing and minimise energy usage.
Care has been given to the carbon embodied in the materials we propose. It is important to understand how materials are produced, where they are produced, how they are transported and utlimately, how they are recycled or disposed of. To reduce embodied carbon to its lowest level we must focus on locally sourced natural materials wherever possible. The ‘forever home’ has been designed to allow the specification of materials, components and products which are designed to be recycled or reused; natural; low in embodied carbon, locally sourced, and / or high in recycled content.
Combining these strategies and modelling the performance of the ‘forever home’ we have determined that the kgCO2e/m2 could be as little as 212. This far outstrips the RIBA 2030 target of 300.
There is little doubt that the new government target is a significant step towards delivering more sustainable homes focused on the health and wellbeing of the current generation while considering the impact of climate change on future generations. Our ‘forever home’ concept exceeds the criteria, utilising proven building physics and modern methods of construction, while at the same time creating homes that are able to expand and contract to suit the owners needs over their lifetime – enabling people to put down roots and feel comfortable about investing in their homes and importantly their communities.
We expect the lifespan of the home to be far beyond that of your typical house – this is a truly sustainable forever home.
The House of 2030 Forever Home is unique in its offering. Not only ensuring all three elements of sustainability are supported, but by also providing a unique financial model supporting early access to the housing ladder and helping to mitigate the housing shortage. Its ultra-low energy demand and micro scale energy generation also helps to mitigate the risk of fuel poverty for residents.
Daryl Fisher, GreenBuild Consult