Exploring the concept:
In 2021, we were contracted by Innovate UK to explore the market’s appetite for building new homes using the innovative Energiesprong approach.
In order to reach net-zero by 2050, we need to change the way we build new homes.
We are working in partnership with Plymouth City Council to develop community-led, zero-carbon, affordable homes. Our first housing development is on land off Coombe Way, Kings Tamerton, Plymouth.
Our flagship scheme will be the first in England to use the Energiesprong Approach, an innovative approach to deliver high quality net zero homes at lower cost. It will form part of Plymouth City Council's Plan for Homes, and be a part of the City's Climate Emergency Action Plan.
Our Kings Tamerton project will be the first new-build scheme to use the Energiesprong approach in England, and so we needed to understand whether this was a realistic ambition. The research allowed us to demonstrate that there is significant interest in this approach and has helped us to embed the design, build and guarantee principles that we intend to use within our contracts.
Energiesprong is a straightforward, pragmatic and flexible approach, applicable to a wide range of situations and house types. It is not a commercial product or brand; no company, product, technology or materials are specified, just the outcomes that everyone needs: warm, affordable, desirable, net zero homes. It's previously been widely used to upgrade existing homes.
When we talk about net zero homes, we are using Energiesprong's definition of ‘net zero energy’, meaning a home generates enough energy in a year to meet that required for its heating, hot water and electrical appliances.
To help choose the right team to work with us to design and build the homes to the Energiesprong standards, we secured funds to run an innovative design competition in which three competing teams were tasked to demonstrate how they would innovatively and creatively meet our net-zero requirements.
Over the course of twelve weeks we received detailed submissions from KIN, Classic Builders and TopHat. They each provided unique solutions to the challenge and were supported by our own independent team of energy and housing design experts to help refine these proposals, and then to assess the winner.
Kin’s scheme altered the original masterplan to reduce the amount of roads on site and to retain more green space. Their design focused on larger blocks of apartments to deliver energy efficiency. They also proposed using Passivhaus certified engineered panel construction for walling, Their scheme proposed air source heat pumps and rooftop solar panels operated through an innovative on-site microgrid and Energy Services Company (ESCO). Their scheme was anticipated to deliver the highest air tightness.
Classic presented a traditional build approach of block construction, but using high performing recyclable poratherm clay blocks with a very low embodied carbon. In addition they added external insulation, air source heat pumps and rooftop solar panels plus in-house battery storage. Their scheme was anticipated to have very low space heating requirements and keep energy low bills for residents.
TopHat produce their homes offsite in their factory and deliver them to site. Their houses would deliver simple open plan layouts. The offsite construction enables better accuracy in construction, less traffic to site and quicker construction speeds. Their designs also utilised air source heat pumps and rooftop solar panels. Each house would also have battery storage. Their scheme was anticipated to provide the largest energy generation surplus.