Eco-Towns in the UK - The Future of Construction
Back in March of this year production began on building the UK first ever Eco-Town in North West Bicester in Oxfordshire. A2Dominion, the lead developer, started preparing the site for building works on the initial phase which is part of a long-term vision to provide up to 6,000 sustainable homes.
The first phase is called Exemplar and involves the construction of nearly four hundred energy efficient, zero carbon homes in a bid to create the UK’s first true zero carbon community. The development will contain 40% green space and will involve cutting edge technology, economic opportunities and community engagement that has environmental integrity at its very core. The Exemplar will include a primary school, a community centre, and an eco-business and retail centre in order to create a village that offers residents the important social hubs necessary.
There are several elements which ensure that the Exemplar project is unique, including:
- All homes will be built to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5 with triple glazing, rainwater harvesting and recycling facilities. They are designed to withstand climate change peaks of up to 10 degrees Celsius which ensures that they will stay warm in winter but will not overheat during the summers.
- The development will contain specially designed cycle and pedestrian routes and residents will be encouraged to adopt more sustainable methods of transport with a bus service within 400m of every home with live timetable updates in each house. There will also be electric vehicle charging points and an electric car club.
- Exemplar is the only eco development in the UK that adheres to the stringent Planning Policy Statements (PPS1) that were originally set out by the government to cover eco towns.
- The development will retain 40% green space and include community allotments to encourage an outdoor lifestyle. Natural landscaping methods will be used to create safe play areas for children and measures are in place to nurture wildlife and biodiversity.
- The construction phase is committed to significantly reduce waste (including zero waste to landfill during construction). The only construction to achieve this so far here in the UK is the London 2012 Olympics construction.
- Every home will sport PV solar panels to generate electricity and this will be the UK’s largest residential solar array to date, generating enough power to supply 550 homes.
- The community space will include communal barbecue areas, herb boxes and seating so that residents can enjoy the outdoor spaces.
- Heating and hot water will be supplied by a combined heat and power plant (CHP) and excess energy generated by the CHP will be fed back into the national grid.
The development has been designed to enable residents to enjoy modern, 21st Century lifestyles with traditional values – it’s hoped that it will become a vibrant and interesting community where people will know and interact with their neighbours much more so than we’re used to in modern Britain. As for the outdoor lifestyle, that’s likely to be a challenge here in the UK where the weather is so unpredictable, but it will certainly be an interesting place to live.