Experts at Focus Consultants are involved in a unique green housing scheme where future residents are building their homes using straw bales and timber.

The development in Leeds is the UK’s first affordable green co-housing project, and Focus Consultants in Boston, Lincolnshire, has been appointed as the assessor to verify the scheme’s green credentials.

The Focus team, based at Endeavour Park in Boston, will carry out SAP calculations and final energy performance certificates for the 20 houses and apartments, as well as carrying out the Code for Sustainable Homes assessment which is expected to be Code Level 4.

“This is a really interesting project to provide affordable homes, and is the first time in the UK that a complete housing development has been built using Modcell prefabricated panels with straw bales for insulation,” said Trevor Newton, partner at Focus Consultants’ Lincolnshire offices.

“We’re proud to be a part of it and hope that such examples of innovative housing will help to inspire future developments across the nation.”

LILAC – Low Impact Living Affordable Community – is a co-housing project in the Bramley area of West Leeds, which is self-funded by its members with help from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

The 20 new homes are owned and managed by a fully mutual co-operative housing society and are being built around a community ‘common house’ designed with shared cooking, eating, laundry, leisure and meeting facilities that will allow all members of the community to live together in a way that will drastically reduce their carbon footprint.

The development uses the latest innovative modern methods of construction (MMC), and has a sophisticated timber frame design with pre-stressed straw bale infill panels finished with an external lime render system. The walls have been assembled off site at a ‘flying factory’ with help from LILAC members.

The Modcell system of panels has been used for schools and public buildings in the UK before but this is the first residential project of its kind.

All houses and apartments on the LILAC scheme have been designed to maximise comfort and well-being, while also achieving a 25% improvement over the latest Building Regulations Part L (Conservation of Fuel and Power) introduced in 2010. State-of-the-art technologies have been implemented, which include whole house mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, high efficiency gas boilers, triple glazing and solar photovoltaic arrays to help offset energy use and heating demand.
“Focus has had close communication with the project team, ensuring that design principles are achieved under all nine categories of the Code for Sustainable Homes Assessment. The scheme has successfully achieved Code Level 4 at design stage in line with the client requirements,” added Trevor.

Contractor for the development is Lindum Construction, and the scheme is due to be complete by March 2013.

Focus Consultants, which also has a Lincolnshire office at Aubourn near Lincoln, offers a range of construction and property services, including project management, surveying, design, party wall services, energy and environmental assessments, CDM co-ordinator, contract administration and employer’s agent.

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