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Green for Go! John Swinney kicks off construction of home of the future


John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, this week formally launched a unique public-private partnership project to construct the first affordable eco-home for the mass market. The house, a partnership between South Lanarkshire College, Dawn Homes and more than 20 private sector partners, will not only provide a unique training facility to teach students the principles of sustainable design, it is also a first for the Scottish housebuilding industry.

The low-energy house incorporates a holistic approach to sustainable design rather than adding expensive eco-extras which make the cost of mass replication prohibitive. The potential cost savings on energy bills not only have positive implications for the private housebuyer but also for the social housing market where the provision of low-cost, energy efficient properties offers a practicable solution for tackling fuel poverty.

Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth John Swinney said:

“Moving to a low carbon economy presents huge opportunities for Scotland and we need to make our buildings greener to meet ambitious climate change targets. With forthcoming changes to building standards to reduce emissions, there is a real opportunity for innovation and this project will help develop the low carbon house of the future. This project could improve skills and support jobs, enhance the built environment and reduce emissions, while lowering people’s bills. It is precisely the kind of project I would encourage.”

From the design of the timber frame and placement of windows to the inclusion of heat recovery units and a rainwater harvesting system, the low-energy house, called the “Aurora” will incorporate techniques and technologies many of which are still uncommon in the UK. The four-bedroom detached house is scalable,

allowing smaller or larger properties and semi-detached or terraced styles to be produced as the market demands.

Martin Egan, Managing Director of Dawn Homes, commented on the launch:

“The ‘Green Living by Dawn’ concept is the first step towards producing affordable and eco-friendly homes for the masses. By following the principles of the Code for Sustainable Homes and integrating them into the property from the design stages we have produced a house that is both low carbon and commercially viable. Not only will the Aurora help students at South Lanarkshire College who are the housebuilders of the future, we believe that this property is housebuilding in the future and could provide a very real solution both for reducing carbon emissions and the eradication of fuel poverty, an issue that affects an estimated 850,000 households in Scotland.*”

The Aurora at South Lanarkshire College will be used as a training facility to meet the imminent and emerging needs of operatives in the construction industry. With integrated cut-away sections and models demonstrating technologies, construction approaches and insulation materials that would otherwise be hidden below ground or behind walls, the facility will offer a unique insight into design features that will become a necessity following the implementation of the Code for Sustainable Homes legislation in Scotland in the coming years.

Angus Allan, Depute Principal at South Lanarkshire College:

“I am delighted with the positive and enthusiastic involvement of all the partners in this project. There is no doubt that over the next few years house design will need to evolve to meet demanding changes in Scottish building regulations with reduced targets for energy use and carbon emissions. We hope that all the partners will benefit from the experience of being involved in this innovative and forward-looking project. South Lanarkshire College is the largest trainer of operatives in the Construction Industry in Scotland and we always aim to be well placed to offer the necessary skills required to meet emerging training needs.”

As part of the project Glasgow Caledonian University will be monitoring the house to provide live data on the low heat losses and the contribution that micro-renewable energy will make to energy flows into the building, evidencing the effectiveness of the eco-friendly design.

Construction is due for completion in September 2009 when SKILLBUILD, a major UK construction skills competition, will take place at South Lanarkshire College.

* Source: Estimate of fuel poor households in Scotland, The Scottish House Condition Survey Team, March 2008

Email: Katrine.Pearson@smarts.co.uk


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