Zero carbon (Level 6) under the UK Code for Sustainable Homes
The Eco Vicarages are a landmark project for both ourselves and the UK. They are the first homes in the country to have been awarded both Zero carbon (Level 6) under the UK Code for Sustainable Homes and Passivhaus accreditation. These homes, delivered for the Diocese of Worcester, are evidence of the Church of England’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint by 80% over the next thirty years. Our Eco Vicarages show how new building stock can delivery seriously impressive environmental improvements with payback on the construction costs predicted as eight years, due to the reduced energy costs in use.
Energy demand has been reduced dramatically through the use of super-insulation, triple glazing and air-tight construction methods. Two types of solar panelling have been installed on the roof; photovoltaic and thermal tubing. The former generates electricity and the latter, hot water. Thanks their high thermal mass, the homes heat up and cool down slowly, avoiding extreme spikes in temperature. A ground to air heat exchanger utilises the constant underground temperature (12c) to regulate incoming air and provide the houses with optimum temperature levels all year round. The combination of these design principles and sustainable technologies have seen annual energy demand dramatically drop from 26,000kWhr to 8,000kWhr
Extensive collaboration with the contractor Speller Metcalfe ensured that all members of the project team were aware of the design strategies and intrinsic sustainability aims. The designs are unique and respond to the surrounding environment and occupiers individual needs. Included in the accommodation are a vicar’s study, living room, kitchen and dining space, family room and four bedrooms. The majority of these rooms are south-facing with large windows to provide excellent day lighting. During the cold months these windows collect winter sun, adjustable recessed blinds prevent overheating in the summer.
The buildings have reduced annual energy costs from £3,000 to less than £100. At the time of completion, the Eco Vicarages were heralded by the Sunday Telegraph as the greenest homes ever built in the country. We know not every project can aim for such holistic sustainable achievements but we are incredibly proud to have been the architects to deliver these homes, setting a high benchmark to aim for in future schemes by ourselves and others.