Housing co-operative launches zero-carbon housing programme

Tenants First Housing Co-operative, Britain’s largest housing co-operative, is launching a quest to develop high-quality, carbon-neutral housing.

The three-year programme will be run as a Knowledge Transfer Partnership between Tenants First and the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow and will employ an architect working full-time at Tenants First.

The aim is to develop a house construction system that will meet the highest-level in the Government’s code for sustainable homes. The code sets a national standard for houses and uses a rating system from one to six.
The Tenants First programme is aimed at a six-star rating, indicating the lowest levels of carbon emissions and the highest standard of sustainability.

Commenting on the initiative Euan Barr, Project Manager with Tenants First, said:
“Tenants First has a record of innovation in construction techniques aimed at improving the efficiency and quality of the homes we build for our members. Most notable are our award-winning projects at Ballater where we utilised a Dutch construction system never seen in this country before, and Peterhead where we piloted offsite timber frame technology.

“With this new initiative we are aiming to develop a construction system that will deliver real benefits for the environment, while providing our members with high-quality homes that have very low running costs.

“One of the challenges we will face is that the technologies to reduce carbon emissions can be costly. As an organisation dedicated to providing affordable homes, we need to find a way of achieving six-star standards of sustainability, without the high cost.”

For the Mackintosh School of Architecture, the project will be led by Dr Masa Noguchi. Dr Noguchi is a specialist in environmental building design, materials and methods applied to sustainable architecture. Dr Noguchi has international experience in delivering low carbon mass custom homes.

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Notes for editors

Tenants First Housing Co-operative

Tenants First Housing Co-operative is Britain’s largest housing co-operative. It has more than 1,300 properties in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and parts of Angus. Tenants First is a non-profit making organisation owned and run by its members for the benefit of members.

Knowledge Transfer Partnership
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships is a UK-wide programme, part-funded by Government led by the DTI, that helps businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills.

The Mackintosh School of Architecture
The Mackintosh School of Architecture is based at the Glasgow School of Art. Architecture has been taught from the middle of the 19th century and the school is named in honour of its best-known alumni Charles Rennie Mackintosh. In a 2006 survey by the Architects' Journal the school was ranked by the profession as the best architecture school in Scotland and third in the UK.

Government commitment to Zero Carbon Homes
In the Budget Statement on December 6, 2006, Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced the Government’s intention that, within ten years, all new homes in this country should be zero carbon.
“Next week the Secretary for Communities and the Housing Minister will set out plans to ensure that within 10 years every new home will be a zero carbon home, and we will be the first country ever to make this commitment.”

Tenants First Ballater housing pilot
The Ballater pilot project by Tenants First Housing Co-operative was completed in 2004. It received an award for excellence from the Tayside Grampian and Fife forum of Housing Associations. This was followed up by the top award for innovation in the Scottish Construction Forum awards.

The houses were factory built, using what is known as a ‘closed panel’ system. Unlike timber-frame panels, the walls of these houses left the factory complete with insulation, services (such as water and electricity) and complete with both internal and external finishes.

On site the wall panels were then erected and made wind and water tight with pre-fabricated roof panels hinged in the middle.

Research, by Hexagon Research and Consulting and Alembic Research, found that the Tenants First houses:
are more thermally efficient, with fuel costs 10% lower than nearby timber-frame houses
  • have a higher quality of finish and fewer ‘snagging’ problems
    • have higher levels of tenant satisfaction.
    • demonstrate better noise insulation
    • and have greater fire resistance qualities.


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