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Traditional house building to deliver zero carbon homes

The delivery of zero carbon homes by 2016 has been addressed in a report released today by an alliance of house builders and the National Trust.

"Volume - Delivering Sustainable Housing", published today by the National Trust, Redrow Homes and Bryant Homes, highlights the major obstacles to be overcome for high environmental standards on volume housing building standard practice across the UK with the target of zero carbon new homes by 2016.

The findings of this report are based on the pioneering Stamford Brook housing development on National Trust land in Cheshire which has shown how traditional house building on a large scale can deliver high environmental standards, such as big reductions in water and energy consumption. There is no renewable energy at Stamford Brook but through good quality design and construction techniques this project has demonstrated that traditional volume housing can be energy and water efficient, saving homeowners money as well as reducing their carbon footprint.

Head of Sustainability and Environmental Practices at the National Trust,Rob Jarman said, "Stamford Brook is proof that a housing development can work when it combines the reality of commercial needs and a vision of better building in terms of environmental standards. The effectiveness of the partnership between a conservation charity, developers, a research body and the community has been the key to making this development work; something that we urgently need to see happening across the UK, in the rush to build new homes."

Stamford Brook shows that it is possible to build energy efficient homes on a large scale. However, the results of monitoring work, led by Leeds Metropolitan University, highlights the need for the house building industry to make improvements in the way houses are designed and built.

Professor of Surveying and Sustainable Housing at Leeds Metropolitan University, Malcolm Bell, who led the research team, said, "If the Government’s low carbon housing targets are to be achieved where it matters, on the ground, we must improve the whole production process and continually check that what we design in theory, is realised in practice. This will require considerable effort not only in design and construction but also in education and training so that the lessons from research are continually fed back to the industry."

One of the major challenges at Stamford Brook has been the lack of a supply chain capable of delivering products which meet the needs of building good quality housing with strong environmental standards and within the economic objectives of the commercial sector. There is especially a need to invest in skills and training in the industry that will help deliver the standards being designated by Government for carbon efficient homes.

"A strong sense of direction from Government and wholehearted support from the construction industry is vital if we’re to achieve the target that all new homes should be zero carbon by 2016," said Jarman.

"Action is needed to bridge the gap between the aspirations of policy-makers to create a greener housing stock and the reality of what is happening in the construction industry where the supply chain cannot deliver the volume of sustainable products needed."

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