Together, Miracles by Design, Stickland Wright, Crofton Consulting and Howarth McCall are excited to unveil an exemplar project in this vein. North Lane, Newhaven is a 13-flat development, to the Active House standards, that offers residents zero bills, substantial indoor planting, and comfortable, healthy internal environments: all predominantly using natural and recycled materials. This project was the UK’s first awarded Active House Development. It stands out due to its commitment to low embodied energy and biophilic design. Design decisions were based on low embodied carbon and operational energy at the heart of the scheme and have been carried through to construction. We are passionate about the principals for the standard want to showcasing Active House principles to the industry and this project is a example of what can be achieved. This was the first UK accredited Active House development and the team have invested greatly into the research and development of the process. We have made mistakes and learnt valuable lessons to ensure that future adaptors of the Active House standard can have smoother journey.
The developer has taken a strong stance to address the affordability issues associated with owning residential properties in todays market. A problem which looks set to become worse. The developer’s affordability package includes rentable bed site and zero energy bills. Each flat has its own rentable studio annex to allow the homeowner with a living wage without working, a pension without saving or an income to support in the mortgage payments. It is clear that the drive to reduce carbon emissions and to also reduce energy consumption is an imperative in today’s world, and not just to meet legislative requirements, this project addresses those issues admirably. Ahead of its time in recognising that the carbon intensity of grid electricity is falling, and in fact that the values used in current SAP assessments are higher than the actual carbon intensity, this project opted for all electrical heating. The heat losses are very low so this compliments the decision the team made.
Natural and low embodied energy materials have been used throughout the project including:
- Ultra Zero Plus Concrete from Cemex, the 1st Nett Zero Concrete = 70% substitute + 30% trees off-set = 100%
- Timber frame construction
- Woodfibre insulation with lime render systems
These products and materials have been specifically selected, in accordance with the Active House certification requirements and certify a low resource depletion impact on the planet’s resources. The majority of materials used in the construction, by mass, are natural which allows for a healthier internal environment for the occupants.
These materials not only contribute to an extremely low embodied energy but in addition many of the materials can be re-purposed, or composted after the useful life of the building ensuring a circularity of the project. At end of life there are very few materials used in the building that would need to go to landfill, therefore reducing the buildings impact of the planets carrying capacity.
Waste water volumes have been limited to ensure that no additional maximum demand load was imposed upon the existing drainage network. Careful consideration of foul waste flows, led to a solution where waste discharge is attenuated in a holding tank, and then released at maximum flow rates into the public sewer.
The SECBE Awards will be announced on the 30th June and the Active House Awards on the 14th April. We wish all of our fellow finalists the best of luck.