Green or Eco-homes are something we are hearing about more and more as the pressure for sustainable housing grows with the population. These are buildings that use available technologies and resources that make the most out of renew-ability, for example solar panels, solar tubes and water filtration systems.

Companies are feeling the pressure to look for the “greenest” way to do business, and homebuilders are no exception. In May 2008 the government made it compulsory for any new homes built to rated against the Code for Sustainable Homes, this code replaced the earlier Ecohomes assessment. The point of the Code is to provide guidance on the construction of new homes to protect the environment.

There are 7 key areas the Code covers:

  • Water Efficiency
  • Energy Efficiency and Co2 levels
  • Surface water management
  • Site waste management
  • Household waste management
  • Use of materials
  • Lifetime homes (applies to code level 6 homes only)

The Code uses a 6 level scoring system; each level takes into consideration both the appropriate minimum standard and a proportion of the ‘flexible’ standards. The assessments for the code done in two steps, the first is done at the design stage based on the technical drawings and specifications for the project, and the second when construction is completed.

Many UK homebuilders are striving to stay ahead of the game, working towards the goal of all new property being certified to level 6 standards by 2016 and more and more of their developments are going “green”.

An example of this is Miller Home’s development at Upton Green, which as the name suggests, is an eco-friendly development. It has been built to a strict design code that specified that they use a limited range of mainly locally sourced, environmentally friendly building materials while building their homes. 43% of the homes have solar power technology with collectors on the southern side of their roof, which collect enough power to heat around 70% of the hot water required for an average four bedroom home.

As well as the solar technology, each of the 123 homes on the site have their own rainwater harvesting system with the reservoir buried beneath the back garden to store water that can be used for cleaning cars and watering gardens and other activities that don’t require the water to be filtered. It can also, however, be filtered and brought back into the home to use for the households washing machine and flushing toilets.

There are also low energy light fittings installed and the homes have been designed to make the most of natural light with large windows and high ceilings and the thermal insulation installed exceeds the Building Regulation requirements by up to 50%.

English Partnership worked along side Miller Homes, installing a ‘Sustainable Urban Drainage’ system (SUDS) on the site, which allows rainfall to be disposed of by a series of shallow, linked ditches that flow in a controlled way to the river. This method of drainage also provides a haven for wildlife as the ponds and ditches formed have been planted up to encourage wildlife into the area.

Another Homebuilder that has increased their “green” developments in recent years is Bovis Homes. For more information about the sustainable homes available from these companies, please check their websites.