So if many properties are built to code 6, or Code 5, then DEMAND for energy REDUCES - As they are net energy Zero Homes/Properties.
Contrary to the ever increasing projections for power, these energy efficiency improvements can benefit all, and end 'fuel poverty'. Ultra low running costs for heating, power and water can only benefit the consumer.
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Green Space, a 10-unit residential scheme in Chelmsford has been certified to Code for Sustainable Homes level 6 – the highest possible level. To reach Code level 6, homes must reach a zero carbon standard and only a handful of developments have achieved the certification so far, six years before government’s commitment to zero carbon homes.
CHP [Not to be confused with Combined Heat and Power], the housing association that developed the scheme used a combination of super insulation and water efficient products, with low carbon renewable energy generation and rainwater harvesting to achieve level 6. Some features of the Chelmsford scheme are:
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- Heating and hot water from communal biomass district heating fuelled by wood pellets.
- Power from photo-voltaic cells on the roof producing 4kW per house and 2.5kW per flat
- Building fabric in walls and roof with U-values of 0.13W/m2K
- Triple argon glazed windows with low E to maximize solar gain with U-values of 0.7W/m2K.
- Timber structure with insulated panel and heat recovery mechanical ventilation provide air-tightness.
- Rainwater harvesting designed to 76L per person per day for flushing WC’s and washing machines.
Reduced energy bills
The Code for Sustainable Homes should have benefits not only for the environment, but essentially for the residents also. CHP, the housing association that developed the scheme in Chelmsford are keen to promote this benefit to their customers. The architect, Jon Boon of Ingleton Wood expects “a predicted energy cost for heating, power and lighting of less than half that of a typical house built to current Building Regulations standards.” The homes also meet Lifetime Homes, a standard that seeks to ensure that homes are adaptable for the changing needs of residents throughout their lifetime.
Reducing carbon emissions and other environmental impacts
The Code for Sustainable Homes provides a template and regulatory checklist to guide development towards designs, features and building practices that reduce environmental impacts. A significant focus for the Code is to reduce CO2 emissions but it also encourages a range of other environmental considerations from water efficiency to sustainable sourcing, reducing flood risk and improving both health and well being of the occupants and the ecological impact of construction.
The Green Space scheme used sustainably sourced timber frame design and incorporated a green roof to encourage biodiversity, along with composting and recycling arrangements to halve expected landfill waste.
The importance of the Code for Sustainable Homes
From 2016 all new homes will be required to reach zero carbon by building regulations. The Code for Sustainable Homes points the way forward for this change and regulations are already changing to catch up with aspects of the Code in terms of water and energy efficiency. Achieving Code level 3 is currently a requirement for all social housing schemes and for planning permission in many areas. From April 2011 we expect this to rise to Code level 4.
The cost of reaching Code for Sustainable Homes level 6
The Green Space development project came in at £1.5 million, 40% more than that of Code for Sustainable Homes level 3 schemes. These technologies save the owner around £380 per year in energy for heating and lighting. The initial output to build homes to Code for Sustainable Homes level 6 will be costly but the operating costs will be much lower than existing homes.
The future and reducing build costs for Code 6
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And linked to Combined Heat and Power systems with power exported to the grid, a developer could look at their projects as a long term investment.