Energy minister unveils zero-carbon housing development

Energy minister Chris Huhne has opened one of the UK’s largest developments of zero-carbon homes.

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) has developed 10 so-called eco-homes in Chalvey, Slough, in a project designed to understand the changing role of the energy supplier in a low-carbon society.

Over the next two years, the community will be studied to better understand what customers will need as the UK moves to reduce its carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

The company has invested more than £3.5m in the project, which has been dubbed ’Greenwatt Way’.

The site features rainwater harvesting, grey water recycling, triple-glazed windows, enhanced insulation and its own renewable heat hub. Installed are four different renewable heating sources, including air- and ground-source heat pumps, a biomass boiler and solar thermal panels.

Renewable electricity is supplied by the integrated solar photovoltaic (PV) tiles that entirely cover the homes’ roofs, with excess power being sold back to the grid.

The development comprises a mixture of two- and three-bedroom family homes and one-bedroom flats. Tenants move in later this week and include staff from SSE and Slough Borough Council, plus local residents.

Project goals

The main aim of the project is to study renewable-energy generation and consumption, along with finding out what residents think about living in their energy-efficient zero-carbon homes.

The findings will contribute to studies that SSE is carrying out in collaboration with NHBC (National House Builders Association), BRE (Building Research Establishment) and Reading University.

Huhne said: ‘Homes in the UK account for more than a quarter of the UK’s carbon-dioxide emissions, so saving energy makes sense for the planet, as well as the householders.

‘With feed-in tariffs, the micro-generation strategy, smart meters and the ’green deal’, sustainable living will transform our community, create green jobs, cut emissions and fuel bills.’

Ian Marchant, SSE’s chief executive, added: ‘The aim of this project for us is to understand how our role as an energy supplier is likely to change in the future, by actually building real homes for people and meeting their real energy needs.

‘It has already proved invaluable for us, as we have learned a significant amount during the construction phase alone and we can prove that constructing a zero-carbon home to ’Code 6’ standard is entirely possible. Little is known about what it’s like to live permanently in a zero-carbon home and so the real critical test starts now.’