Energy efficient homes from Volula, an architect led British construction company, are prefabricated in the company’s state of the art manufacturing facility then trucked to the building site and assembled. It has recently competed 4 of its carbon neutral, net zero Spacehus residences for the Northumberland County Council.
Rob Charlton, chief executive of Volula, believes his company’s Spacehus energy efficient homes provide a much needed alternative to England’s traditional method of building homes from scratch. “[H]igh performance, precision made, off-site construction that has been tried and tested for 50-years or more in Sweden,” he says. “Everything right down to the plumbing is inbuilt and fitted as a unit to the exact requirement.” The technique minimizes onsite waste and shrinks the supply chain, which cuts the carbon impact.
It also results in homes that are unusually air tight by normal British standards. With triple glazed windows and and extra thick 9.5″ exterior insulation, heating requirements are minimal. Solar panels installed on the south-facing roof provide most of the requirement for electricity. Heating and interior lighting can be controlled via the internet, a feature that Charlton says future generations will expect.
“We’ve done our analysis and this gives us the confidence to say to the tenants ‘there’s no extra charge for the utilities you use’. We think that’s got to a be a big plus for many families concerned about their heating costs and in many cases fuel poverty,” says Charlton.
The UK has some of the oldest, least energy efficient homes to be found anywhere. Amost 50% of its energy imports go to heating existing housing and commercial buildings. It is vital for it to adopt bold new standards and techniques like prefabrication in order to reduce its carbon footprint going forward. But will it?
Charlton knows his countrymen are set in their ways and it will be difficult to for significant changes to occur in the building industry, but he says disruption is always a good thing. “Look at the innovations in other industries, like automobiles. Apparently Apple is now going into making cars. Who would have thought it? Anything is possible.”
Source: The Guardian : Photo: Volula