Construction of 51 homes built to Passivhaus standards using an innovative offsite system will begin on site in Rainham, Essex, in November. The scheme, a new partnership between Circle Housing Group and Climate Energy Homes, will be the first major project to use the offsite system, which claims to have 3,000 new orders in the pipeline.
Christine Hynes, chief executive of Climate Energy Homes, which developed the ecoTECH system and uses it as the basis for providing a complete turnkey solution, said that attitudes and demand for offsite prefabrication were changing dramatically, to the extent that the firm was in the throes of signing a deal to supply the system to three major housebuilders.
Climate Energy Homes forms part of Climate Energy Group, which is owned by Climate Change Capital Private Equity. For the Rainham site, Climate Energy Homes bought the site from the Greater London Authority, and financed the development, taking on the planning risk. It will be transferred to housing association Circle Housing Group once construction starts.
Hynes said that the cuts to housing grant and the push for building of homes for private rent was proving a game changer for the offsite systems, as it was all about getting schemes built and lettable as quickly as possible without compromising quality.
Hynes has been developing the system since 2001 when she left the IT industry and turned her attention to housing after she couldn’t find a “healthy home she wanted to buy”.
Her firm became part of the Climate Change Capital stable in in 2011. She says that the company has a capacity to produce 10,000 a year, with 75% of the system’s components manufactured in the UK and she is also in talks with contractors to use the technology for a wide range of building types including schools. “Our shared goal is to provide warm comfortable homes quickly and cost effectively. ecoTECH Build Systems have been benchmarked against industry standard costs and are shown to cost up to 10% less than less well insulated traditional houses and take around half the time to build.”
Helen Wilson, group head of energy and green strategy at Circle Housing Group, said the beauty of the system was that it would cut bills to customers by up to 80%.
The development is designed by Maccreanor Lavington Architects and BDG.
The ecoTECH system is based on factory built closed timber frames supplied to site complete with breather membranes, insulation and plasterboard, back boxes and conduits, with Secured by Design triple-glazed windows and doors all pre-installed in the factory to ensure air-tightness.
Hynes says the ecoTECH build system was used for an affordable Housing project in Essex, designed to be Code for Sustainable Homes level 3 compliant. One of the three-bedroom detached houses (90m2) on the site, has since been monitored for heating and hot water bills, which are less than £260 per year compared with the UK average of £1,200, representing an annual saving of £940.
The Rainham houses will comprise 26 four-bedroomed units and eight three-bedroom units. The flats include 12 two-bedroom units, four one-bedroom units, and one four-bedroom unit. The units will range in size from 60.9 sq m net internal area to 125.8 sq m.