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Factory built council homes will be greenest in UK

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Modular housing company ilke Homes has worked with energy and regeneration specialist, ENGIE to complete Greenwich’s first zero-carbon homes – as the Royal Borough gears up to meet its dual pledges of delivering 750 new council homes and reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

The four council eco-homes were safely craned into place and installed in Robert Street, Woolwich, following the enabling works by ENGIE which included demolition of existing site, substructure and utilities.

Because the homes were manufactured at ilke Homes’ 250,000 sq ft factory in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, minimal work was required when they arrived onsite. This meant the homes were delivered significantly faster than if traditional construction methods were used, and enabled work to be finished safely and in line with government guidelines on social distancing at work.

The eco-homes exceed zero-carbon standards in the UK, and are the most efficient homes ilke Homes has produced to date. Each home is capable of producing energy back to the grid, showing the potential for mass market roll out using ilke Homes factory technology and the technology installed in homes.

By using precision-engineering techniques and digital design, all four homes have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating well-above the highest category of ‘A’. In the UK, only one percent of new builds are ‘A’ rated, while the average rating is ‘D’.

Due to high levels of energy-efficiency, the new homes, which were delivered in half the time of traditional methods and came fitted with individual air source heat pumps and solar panels, will be able to be heated on as little as £1-a-day. For context, a modern gas boiler produces 12 times as much carbon dioxide as ilke Homes’ heat pumps.

The development comes as Royal Borough of Greenwich, which recently declared a local climate emergency, laid bare in February the huge task ahead in meeting its carbon reduction targets. The council estimates that its 21,000 homes are responsible for 20% of emissions in the borough, with the cost of retrofitting buildings to come close to the £1bn mark.

As such, using modern methods of construction (MMC) to manufacture and install homes will be crucial if the local council and built environment are to meet the Mayor of London’s zero-carbon homes standard, which supports the Mayor’s aspiration to make the capital carbon neutral by 2030.

By using the latest digital technologies such as Building Information Modelling – which allows manufacturers to create a digital copy of homes so that their energy performance can be modelled – ilke Homes is able to vastly improve the airtightness and quality of its homes. This ensures all homes can be manufactured to net-zero carbon standards and allows residents to save huge sums of money on energy bills.

The homes are backed by the same National House-Building Council 10-year Buildmark warranty that traditional homes offer, ensuring they are fully mortgageable and insurable. In addition, the homes also have a 100-year warranty from the Buildoffsite Property Assurance Scheme, which leading high street lenders including Barclays, Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland have all stated is mandatory for them to provide a mortgage on a modular home.

Matthew Bench, executive director of partnerships at ilke Homes, said, “These are some of the most energy-efficient homes on the market. Rather than using carbon offsetting schemes, which is a common occurrence when the industry talks about net-zero, all the carbon savings are achieved by the technologies of the homes themselves. It has been fantastic to partner with ENGIE and Greenwich Council on this innovative and sustainable development.

“Climate change is accelerating and unless we act soon it will run out of control. With more than 250 councils across the UK declaring an emergency, there has never been a more important time for central and local government to look towards innovative methods of housebuilding as a means of delivering new, energy-efficient homes.”

Simon Lacey, Regional Managing director for ENGIE’s Places & Communities South division, said, “It’s fantastic to be working with like-minded businesses that are putting zero carbon at the fore. These new homes are a step change for Greenwich and will provide more affordable housing in their borough.

“As the world leader in carbon reduction and renewable energy, ENGIE is poised to continue working with our partners to deliver similar schemes over the coming years and play an integral part in making zero carbon happen.”

Royal Borough of Greenwich Cabinet Member for Housing Cllr Anthony Okereke said, “These high-quality and sustainable council homes are the first of 750 we’ll be delivering across the borough as part of our Greenwich Builds programme.

“That we’ve been able to complete these much needed new homes on schedule speaks to the hard work of the Greenwich Builds team and our partners at Engie and ilke Homes. Addressing the shortage of social housing is a top priority for the Council and we’re delighted that Robert Street, our pilot Greenwich Builds development, is now ready for local families to move in.”




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