Citu aims to ‘disrupt’ construction industry with low-carbon housing scheme

Urban developer Citu has unveiled the first glimpses of a timber-framed housing system that is up to ten times more energy efficient than standard UK homes, with production practices also able to reduce the carbon footprint of construction by 24,000 tonnes annually.

The Citu Homes is being developed by the developer in partnership with Leeds Beckett University. Based on a Scandinavian model of medium density urban housing, the process could produce up to 750 low-carbon homes annually in the UK.

The company claims that if the Government’s target of building 300,000 new homes annually were manufactured using the Citu Home design, then UK carbon emissions would be reduced by more than 550 million tonnes, compared to conventional construction methods.

Citu’s founder Chris Thompson said: “The Citu Home, and the wider Climate Innovation District, represent a pioneering new approach to house building in this country which is one of the biggest causes of carbon emissions. The self-build market has been able to design energy efficient homes for a while now, but no one is doing it on a mass-scale and without a big change, the UK is not going to meet its ambitious targets for either new housing or reducing carbon emissions.

“We want to disrupt the construction industry which has fallen behind other sectors in terms of innovation and productivity.”

Unique Cituation

The homes will be built on site at Citu’s Climate Innovation District in Leeds, which acts as the first low-carbon neighbourhood in the UK. Once completed, the district will feature more than 500 low-carbon Citu Homes, ranging from apartments to four-bedroom homes.

According to the developer, each Citu Home will be ten times more air-tight than what current UK building regulations require, and will prevent heat loss through an “envelope” that stops heat escaping through the building’s structure. Each home will offer heating requirements 10 times lower than UK averages and will also offer green roofs, rainwater harvesting systems and solar panels.

The homes are due to be completed in 2018, with costs reaching to £390,000 for larger properties. The buildings will be located in the Innovation District, which has been part-funded by a £7.7m loan from the Leeds City Region Revolving Investment Fund (RIF). In total, the district will consist of 121 homes and 191 apartments.

Each house owner in the district will be enrolled as a member of a Community Interest Company (CIC). The Company will own the renewable energy systems within the district and all energy produced will enter a community network. The CIC will purchase 100% certified renewable electricity from the National Grid. The CIC then bills residents according to energy use, with surplus sold back to the grid.

Citu’s announcement arrives after NextGeneration, which benchmarks the sustainability performance of the UK’s largest homebuilders, awarded Lendlease the top spot for the second consecutive year due to its efforts in areas such as environmental management, procurement, customer engagement and community development.

Lendlease’s £2.3bn regeneration project of Elephant Park in Elephant & Castle was singled out as an example of best practice. The project, which participates in the global C40 Cities Climate Positive Development Program, has seen the developer replace carbon-intensive materials with greener alternatives such as cross-laminated timber and geopolymer concrete.

Matt Mace

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