'Grand Designs' On The Future Of Zero Carbon Social Housing

November 2012

Northern Ireland’s leading sustainable construction and green energy technology firm Green Future NI  was established in 2012 and already has achieved building Northern Ireland' first ever accredited zero carbon house aptly named the ‘Green Future House’. This pioneering zero carbon blue-print build showcases how affordable and accessible it is to build an energy cost saving zero carbon house.

This ‘Green Future House’ not only meets but exceeds the Government’s required transition to mass construction of new ‘zero carbon homes’ by 2016. The 5 bedroom traditionally designed country home a showhouse throughout 2012 was officially opened back in March by Minister for the Environment Alex Attwood MLA and his Irish counterpart Phil Hogan T.D.

Green Future, the Armagh based firm, also supplies and consults on a range of innovative green technologies, has created this zero carbon prototype at a highly market competitive price, similar in cost to traditional building methods, something which Green Future is proud to have achieved. Evidently the ‘Green Future House’ which boosts negative C02 emissions is the first and only house in the province to be awarded 5 years no rates under the Governments now defunct Zero Carbon and Low Carbon Homes Scheme.

Most importantly for the homeowner is the fact this zero carbon blue-print build of superior performing homes is capable of near-zero energy bills. Annual energy bills for this 5 bedroom 3100sq ft story and a half house equates to only £200 a year, that’s 79 per cent cheaper to run than ordinary houses, building anything other than a zero carbon house would deem foolish as fuel bills for homeowners here in Northern Ireland continue to soar.

Green Future has proven that it is possible to build a zero carbon house at costs similar to that of traditional building methods. Until now this was unheard of. Having spent 4 years researching the most innovative green energy technology and low carbon building methods available in the global marketplace, John McClatchey managing director of Green Future successfully achieved this zero carbon prototype capable of near-zero energy bills meeting the Governments target 4 years earlier which decrees all new builds be zero carbon by 2016. With energy bills of only £200 a year this house is 79 per cent cheaper to run than ordinary houses (Based on Zero Carbon Hub house types, modelled in NHER Plan Assessor 5.3/5.4 (SAP 2009) and with projected energy costs taken from DECC published figures).

 The Green Future House:

• Has more than 10 times less energy requirement compared to average UK buildings • Performs almost 8 times more efficient compared to 2006 Building Regulations • Has twice less heating demand compared to maximum called by Zero Carbon Hub • Has negative C02 emissions, it produces at last as much energy as it consumes • Total energy costs are £200 GBP per annum, lowest running costs per £ spent on build • Construction is 4 times faster using low carbon ICF (insulated concrete form)

With fuel poverty and energy crisis major concerns for us all, trying to reduce fossil fuel energy cost and consumption, but more importantly trying to find an alternative to fossil fuel dependency is high on everyone’s agenda. Green Future believes it has found the answer.   This level 6 sustainable 'blue-print' build uses no fossil fuels, therefore the homeowner would  not have to pay huge oil and gas bills in they lived in a house built by Green Future.  The technology used to create this superior energy performing home includes a heat recovery system, PV's, solar pan triple glazed PVC windows, a 4kw inline heater battery, an external wood pallet boiler which has 97 per cent efficiency, solar water heating, an alternative energy supply in the form of solar PV installation, its own waste water treatment plant and LED lighting.

Ulster University Centre of Sustainable Technologies is collaborating with Green Future, having been commissioned by Invest NI to measure the thermal performance of the ‘Green Future House’. Headed by low carbon professor Dominic McLarnon, results are due for public release next month.

Minister for Environment Alex Attwood who officially opened the ‘Green Future House’ said: “Energy efficient homes have lower running costs and as such also have an important role to play in reducing fuel poverty. I therefore wish to encourage those in the building industry to take on the challenge of improving the energy efficiency of their houses and recognise the wider role they have in improving the lives of the poorest in our society and in shaping a clean and green future for everyone.

“Improving the energy efficiency of housing provides an opportunity to develop new ideas in design and construction and I welcome the innovation which has been shown in building these Zero and Low Carbon homes of the future”.

Green Future spokesman and director John McClatchey added: "Compulsory zero carbon housing will come into effect in the not so distant future here in NI due to EU Directive policy and the UK's Green Deal 2016 plan. This Green Future house is the perfect forerunner for what's to come and the public support demonstrates people here are tired paying huge fuel bills to heat their homes which would be obsolete if they lived in one of our zero carbon prototype homes."