Award-winning ECO build outperforms expectations

A landmark Gainsborough housing project, Cross Street has taken top spot at this year’s Lincolnshire Energy Awards, as its energy performance beats all predictions.

Winner of this year’s Construction Project of the Year at June’s Lincolnshire Energy Saving Awards, the Cross Street Development, was built by Woodhead’s specialist sustainability team, Woodhead Living, in partnership with Longhurst Group, West Lindsey District Council and L&H Homes, which manages the properties.

In 2012, the former brownfield site was transformed into the first ‘Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5 project, built in an urban location in Lincolnshire.

Developed using a fabric first’ approach, the homes reduced the need for additional energy saving technology as the buildings themselves are designed to reduce energy bills and retain a constant temperature. Working closely with the Technology Strategy Board and the University of Lincoln, ongoing research has allowed a full assessment of how well these sustainable measures are working, and the impact they are having on tenants.

Since their completion, the homes which sit in the heart of Gainsborough, have picked up a handful of awards including the most recent Construction Project of The Year title at the Lincolnshire Energy Saving Awards.  Last week, the project team held a seminar to share best practice with other local authorities and industry professionals and to report on the environmental monitoring findings.

The scheme was the first social housing project that Woodhead has delivered to Level 5. Glenn Slater, Business Development Director at Woodhead, said: “We were delighted to have been a part of such an innovative and successful development. This project is paving the way for smarter more sustainable homes to be constructed in the future, based on the data we have collected.

“Monitoring the efficiency of these homes over time is so important in understanding how well the approach has worked and what could be done in future developments to enhance the effectiveness of the build and technologies.”

Woodhead used off-site manufactured Structural Insulated Panels (SIPS) to build the frame, roof and internal walls. This not only took three weeks to construct, but the fabric of the building also maximises the structure’s air tightness and thermal efficiency. Early air tightness tests on the properties showed better-than-anticipated results, exceeding what had been expected from the design requirements. The positive results will help tackle the growing issue of fuel poverty.

The generation of electricity through solar photo-voltaic (PV) panels and the Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery (MVHR) System are already helping tenants to reduce their bills and live in warmer homes, as well as units to reduce water consumption. Tenants told Longhurst Group just how pleased they had been with their new energy efficient homes and the difference they had made to their lives:

“The user guides provided were really helpful when we first moved in to the house.”

“We enjoy living in the house, it’s close to town, and the layout is brilliant. We hear no noise from neighbours or the street, and the house is very warm, we can tell the difference, the heating comes on as it needs, it’s lovely even through the cold spell.”

“Couldn’t believe how lucky I am to live here ‘I love it’, we are all happier and I feel very lucky and settled. My children’s school work has improved and the house has made a big difference to our lives.”

Diane Starkey, Sustainability Design Officer, at Longhurst Group, added: “We’re proud to be part of this award winning project and we’re very pleased with the excellent efficiency results. The eco-friendly features are helping residents to save money on energy bills, and feedback from people living in the houses has been extremely positive.”

Following a successful year of monitoring the performance of the properties, work will continue to look at other areas that could further improve the building performance, including providing more education for tenants on reducing gas consumption. This is the only measure that has not exceeded expectations, however it’s still far better than any traditional home.