Sustainable housing has never been more important. The climate emergency, and the need for us all to cut our carbon emissions, has led to an increased interest in improving the energy efficiency of the nation’s leaky housing stock.
But while there has been a gradual move towards more sustainable design, the format of our homes has not really moved forward. Few new housing developments are imaginatively designed for 21st century living, nor are they age-friendly or designed for flexible use.
The major developers are still routinely churning out mock Georgian or Victorian boxes – with standard layouts – which meet, but do not significantly exceed, the minimum energy performance requirements of building regulations. Thankfully there are some exceptions – notably the award-winning Passivhaus Goldsmith Street social housing scheme in Norwich designed by architects Mikhail Riches and Cathy Hawley – but there is still a long way to go.
Inclusive, Age-friendly living
The UK’s population is aging, and even before the lockdown measures of Covid-19, many of us now work regularly from home. We live in our our homes in a very diffent way than a few years ago. And we’re living longer. But this need to make our properties work for our lifestyles and be future-proof for the older generation has not been translated into the way our homes are being designed and built. Self-builders and some small developers have started to move in this direction, but what is really needed is a green revolution, as well as a re-think in the way we approach the design and configuration of all of the UK’s new housing stock.
Certainly here at CLPM our clients’ desire to develop their homes often starts with the need to improve the flow and configuration of their homes. Often their plans involve creating additional, flexible zones which can be used as workspaces or hobby spaces for themselves and their children. However we’re also increasingly finding that many wish to work with us to help them adapt their existing homes to make them more accessible, and so suitable for their future needs. We’ve also worked with a number of retiree self-builders to complete new build properties which have been designed with future accessibility in mind.
Whatever the reason however, if we are all spending more time in our homes – either due to changing working patterns or old age and limited mobility – they need to be designed so that they are comfortable and affordable to heat. Our housing needs to be sustainable.
Sustainable Design matters
But how do we create sustainable housing?
Sustainable housing starts with sustainable design. As both construction and sustainable housing experts we spend a great deal of our time encouraging individual homeowners and property developers to build or improve their properties in a smarter and more sustainable way.
Reducing the impact a building has on the environment starts with the way a property is constructed. So we get involved in the very early design stages – working collaboratively with the client and their architectural design team. Here our role is to suggest the most effective ways of improving the energy performance of the building envelope.
Typically this includes:
- The construction of the floors, walls,and roof – what materials to use, what levels and types of insulation to install
- Windows – what impact on energy performance there will be for different U values, size and orientation of the glazing
- Draught-proofing measures – how best to make improvements to air-tightness
We also usually give independent advice on the most efficient way to heat and provide hot water for the property.
Home 2030 Competition
With all of this in mind we were very pleased to hear of a new initiative – The Home of 2030 Competition – which is aiming to encourage the delivery of environmentally friendly, inclusive and age friendly homes at scale in the UK.
Over the years we’ve been consulted on a number of imaginative community projects – most notably a straw bale construction community housing scheme in the South West – and we’ve enjoyed every moment. So when we were approached by Beaconsfield based architectural practice, Hardvendel Design to work collaboratively with them on an entry to the Home of 2030 competition we leapt at the chance!
The Home of 2030 is a government-led initiative which was launched this March by Housing Minister Christopher Pincher. It’s a design competition aimed at architects and other industry experts and its purpose is to design a blueprint for a housing scheme which meets the current and future needs of our society.
The aim is to develop a model which:
- Reduces the impact of our housing on the environment
- Builds homes with home working and inclusivity in mind
- Creates a home and environment that is better suited to the health and wellbeing of an aging population
The competition entrants will work up schemes that are affordable, deliverable and scaleable – and which can therefore play a major part in reinventing the way we live and work together. Exciting stuff!
With just under 2 weeks to go before the entry deadline of 2nd June CLPM’s sustainability experts Rob Bohm and Tony Duffin and architect Susanne Hardvendel are hard at work refining their exciting Home of 2030 competition entry. As you can appreciate the content of our submission is rather hush hush, so we’re giving no details at the moment – but we’ll keep you updated on how we get on soon!
Get in Touch
If you are interested in creating your own sustainable home or need support making your home more accessible and suitable for inclusive living then do get in touch.
Call 01923 896550, email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete a contact form.