Top ten UK housebuilder Miller Homes has shown its commitment to the environment with the creation of two new eco-friendly developments.
Construction at Allerton Bywater Millennium Village in Yorkshire is expected to complete this year, while Upton Green in Northampton is due for completion at the end of 2008. Both have been designed to meet the strictest environmental standards and encourage homeowners to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
Built on a former colliery site, one of the main objectives for Allerton Bywater was to re-invigorate and expand the former mining community and demonstrate that previous industrial sites can be used successfully for modern, attractive and sustainable housing.
All 176 houses and 21 apartments at Allerton Bywater have been built to a specification centred around the ecological impact of the construction process and the energy consumption of the completed homes.
In order to comply with Government policy to encourage and develop sustainable communities, all houses must meet the EcoHomes 'Excellent' standard which places all aspects of the development under close scrutiny - from the fabric of the buildings and the ecological value of the design to the health and wellbeing of those who live there.
Specific requirements involve reducing energy consumption in the home by 20%, reducing mains water consumption in the home by 20%, and reducing domestic waste by 50%. The homes have also been designed to encourage the use of energy-efficient materials and make the best use of natural resources such as sunlight.
Other key features include:
- Low energy, high output boilers
- Extra insulation in walls and lofts
- Low flush WC’s
- Higher than average specification glazing
- Low energy white goods
- Extra waste recycling facilities
In addition, 'home zones' have been incorporated into the street design, giving equal consideration to pedestrians and vehicles, while raised areas of the roads and thoughtful design ensures that vehicles travel around the development at restricted speeds.
Upton Green, meanwhile, marks the first time that eco-friendly measures have been introduced on such a large scale: a total of 1000 homes are planned for the site, of which 123 are being built by Miller Homes.
Like Allerton Bywater, the development is being built under the auspices of English Partnerships and homes must meet similarly stringent environmental criteria. Overall, homes are designed to achieve the top BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) score for environmental performance, together with the highest National Home Energy Rating for energy usage.
Measures employed to achieve these standards include 10ft high ceilings and tall windows to maximise natural light within the home. Low energy light fittings are used throughout and all homes are fitted with the latest condensing boilers that operate at 94% efficiency. Thermal and acoustic insulation in the homes exceeds Building Regulation requirements by approximately 50% and 20% in lofts where standards are already high.
Some homes feature additional environmental elements which are over and above the standard requirements. Solar technology has been made available as a plot specific choice and almost half of the Miller Homes properties have solar collectors on southerly aspect roof slopes - capable of heating 70% of the hot water requirement for a typical four-bedroom family home. A number of homes have photo voltaic panels on roof slopes which can generate 50% of the electricity requirements of a typical family and there is even the option to have a meter installed so that unused electricity can be sold to the National Grid.
Every home at Upton Green has its own rainwater harvesting system, with an underground reservoir in the back garden to store rainwater. This is connected to an outside tap for gardening use but the water is also filtered and brought back into the home for the washing machine and to flush the downstairs lavatory.