Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Minister meets 'test family' in zero carbon home

Energy Minister Greg Barker MP (right) with Laura and Nik Glazebrook and Paul Hicks of VELUX, outside the CarbonLight Homes in Northamptonshire.
Energy Minister Greg Barker MP (right) with Laura and Nik Glazebrook and Paul Hicks of VELUX, outside the four bedroom CarbonLight Homes project in Kettering, Northamptonshire.
Energy and climate change minister Greg Barker yesterday saw for himself the benefits of living in a low energy house when he met one of two test families who are living in a 'CarbonLight Home' as part of a 15 month study.

The VELUX CarbonLight Homes are located in Kettering, Northamptonshire. Mr Barker toured the houses accompanied by Kettering Borough Council’s leader Cllr Russell Roberts, and met the Glazebrook family, who are living in one of the homes as part of a study to measure the homes’ energy performance and monitor their effect upon the families’ overall health and well-being.

“This energy-efficient home is inspirational," said Mr Barker at the end of his visit. "It dispels the myth that green living involves sacrifices of style, luxury or comfort. It’s so bright, light and airy, with high ceilings and lots of family space.

"It’s clearly delighting the couple and their kids who live here. This vision gives something to learn from for the rest of the country."

He used the opportunity to promote the Green Deal, which he said "is giving people a chance to retrofit their homes with energy efficiency measures by removing expensive upfront costs.

“And it’s great to see new, efficient, homes, like these ones in Kettering, being built as well.

“Our housing stock is currently among the least energy efficient in Europe, so upgrading older homes and building new more efficient ones is absolutely vital if we’re going to cut our emissions and help people reduce their energy consumption.”

Paul Hicks, Sustainability & Design Manager at VELUX, added: "It is crucial that the green agenda is placed at the forefront of government policy-making. We hope the Minister’s visit to the CarbonLight Homes has demonstrated that innovative design can be employed to create inspirational carbon neutral houses, encouraging a wholly sustainable lifestyle and offer a viable solution to the challenge of reducing carbon emissions.”

The two homes meet the future demands for sustainable buildings and were developed with a focus on the health and well-being of their occupants. They are also designed to interact with local conditions and use natural resources to reduce carbon emissions.

While in the area, the Minister also met with the MP for Kettering, Philip Hollobone, and a range of public and private sector partners to understand more about the area’s innovative approach to energy efficiency and sustainability issues.

Councillor Russell Roberts, Leader of Kettering Borough Council, said that Mr Barker's visit "follows an on-going dialogue with him on the opportunities that exist in Kettering and we are keen to continue this dialogue in the future."

The VELUX CarbonLight Homes

These homes have been designed and built to the new government definition of ‘zero carbon’, and are intended for ordinary people. They make use of their surrounding environment in an intelligent way to maximise daylight and encourage a sustainable lifestyle.

Design-wise they are open plan and incorporate high levels of daylight and natural ventilation in order to minimise energy consumption among residents and generate a sense of community.

They intended to demonstrate that common-sense design can be used to create inspirational sustainable houses that can be easily replicated by the UK’s volume house builders.

The CarbonLight Homes were developed in a strategic partnership between the VELUX Group, HTA Architects, Kettering Borough Council, Willmott Dixon and the North Northants Development Company, WindowMaster, VELFAC, Drexel and Weiss and Sonnenkraft supplied the products for the house.

The CarbonLight Homes are one of six buildings in Europe to be constructed by the VELUX Group as part of the Model Home 2020 project.

Model Home 2020

Model Home 2020 is an experiment launched by the VELUX Group that represents its vision of how future buildings can be both climate-neutral and comfortable and attractive places to live, through use of daylight and fresh air.

The project is designed according to the next generation of design principles, called ‘Active House’, in order to achieve a balance between energy efficiency and optimal indoor living conditions.

The building dynamically adjusts to its surroundings and yet is climate-neutral. Each instance of the design must reflect and respond to the different climatic, cultural and architectural conditions of the countries in which it is constructed.

Model Home 2020 comprises six demonstration projects. Each was implemented in close cooperation with local and regional partners, suppliers, architects, engineers and researchers.

The demonstration houses will be open to the public for 6-12 months after completion and then sold. They will then be monitored during occupancy to learn how the experiments turn out in real-life conditions.

The experiments in Denmark, Home for Life in Aarhus and Green Lighthouse in Copenhagen, have been in use for a year, those in Germany and Austria opened in the autumn of 2010, and those in the UK and France opened in 2011.

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