Green Future Proves House Builders Can Build Zero Carbon Homes After UK Chancellor Scraps A Requirement To Give House Builders More Time

July 2015

The chancellor has scrapped a requirement for new homes to be zero carbon by 2016 because he said it would prove too expensive and developers needed more time to develop energy efficient homes. But house builder Green Future is already delivering a home that exports more power to the grid than it uses and crucially built to normal social housing budget.

This pioneering Northern Ireland house builder has successfully developed homes that not only meet the UK Government's now scrapped 2016 target but actually exceed it, with households already reaping the benefits of living in zero carbon homes.

The zero carbon homes built by the award winning Armagh house builder Green Future don't rely on oil or gas, with homeowners even earning money selling excess energy to Northern Ireland Grid as the innovative homes are capable of producing more energy than they use. This on top of households also saving around 70 per cent on their home energy bills. 

One homeowners in County Armagh earned £613 last year by selling excess energy to the grid, this on top of savings of around 70 per cent on their home energy bills and crucially, the home was built within the normal budget for social housing. 

Dermot McClatchey, Director of Green Future NI, said: "The chancellor’s reason for dropping the Code for Sustainable Homes and then the zero carbon homes commitment was because these homes could not be achieved and house builders needed more time. This is flawed. We have achieved this and what's more Green Future homes even exceed the Government requirements, with homeowners earning money selling excess energy, as well as saving on average 70% on their home energy bills for £1,000 per sq m.

“Zero carbon homes don’t need to cost more  – and they don't need to look outlandish. We have proved it is possible to deliver energy efficient homes at this cost, homes designed in such a way to appeal to ordinary people"

The house in County Armagh took just 16 weeks to construct and cost £1,000 per sq m - that's within the range for social housing of £800 to £1,000 per sq m, the house builders said.

Government spokesman said house builders needed to be given more time to develop low energy homes. Yet this Northern Ireland house builder has already achieved zero carbon homes to Code for Sustainable Homes Code Level 6 at costs within normal budget for social housing. 

Green Future have developed homes across Northern Ireland using its build system which they say is a "game-changer" and  to roll out its energy-efficient homes across the UK.

Each home has insulated render on the outside and air heating systems that rely on daylight. The house builders say it imports energy in the winter, but the imports are trumped by energy exports during summer months.

The Code for Sustainable Homes allowed councils to demand that builders meet high environmental standards on energy, water, materials, waste and pollution. The government scrapped the measure in March.

The Green Future House, the house builders prototype property has glazed solar photo-voltaic (PV) panels fitted into the south-facing roof and an insulated concrete form building envelope specification that delivers high levels of thermal efficiency and air tightness.

“The Green Future House provides for approximately a 77 per cent improvement in thermal performance compared to a traditional house built to minimum building mandatory requirements.” According to experts at Ulster University, Centre for Sustainable Technologies who were commissioned by the house builder to performance test and monitor the its prototype property.

The innovative property also uses solar generation and battery storage to run both the combined heating, ventilation and hot water system which includes appliances, LED lighting, triple glazed windows and a heat pump.

Solar thermal panels are used to generate hot water in summer and a biomass boiler provides hot water and space heating in winter, fuelled by wood pellets.

Dermot McClatchey, director, Green Future NI said: "Using the latest technology, innovation and design, Green Future has proved house builders are indeed building zero carbon homes at low costs, creating long-term benefits for both the economy and the environment. We are proud to be at the forefront of our industry having developed a smart build system, the perfect forerunner for what's to come - mass transition to a zero carbon house building economy across Europe.

"The cost of our zero carbon house was similar to that of the social housing benchmark, making it an affordable option for housing associations. One family living in a 5 bedroom home in Armagh has already earned £613 from selling excess energy in 2014. This on top of home energy savings of 70 per cent.

"The Northern Ireland and UK Governments – and governments across the EU – have set targets for very low 'nearly zero' energy buildings by 2020, and zero carbon new housing can deliver this and more. This means that as house builder we have to rise to that challenge and come-up with innovative new ways to build houses of the future, Dermot McClatchey, Director, Green Future NI continued.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "The government is not proceeding with the zero carbon buildings policy and will instead give developers the time they need to build energy efficient homes required by recent changes brought in during the last parliament to building regulations to improve efficiency."

Green Future was responsible for building the first ever Government accredited zero carbon house in Northern Ireland back in March 2012. The Green Future House, a 3100 sq ft county home near Armagh City. This prototype property, now an Open Learning facility, lets industry and education see first hand how a zero carbon home works. Officially opened by former Environment Minister Alex Attwood MLA and his Irish counterpart former Environment Minister Phil Hogan T.D and praised as the future of house building. 

Back in 2012 the then Environment Minister Alex Attwood MLA 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."