Could this ‘Zero Bills’ home galvanise a troubled housing sector?

An innovative new housing prototype that incorporates roof-integrated solar photovoltaics and air-source heat pumps as an energy storage system has been unveiled, with the designers claiming that the building will make domestic energy bills 'obsolete'.

The Zero Bills home has been developed by RIBA award winning, zero carbon design specialists Zed Factory. The prototype uses renewable energy sources such as solar and ‘stale air’ to create an energy storage system that can generate enough electricity to power the home and charge a small electric vehicle.

Speaking at the launch Zed Factory’s architect Bill Dunster said: “SME builders are key to delivering the 250,000 homes per annum we need across the UK – the Zero Bills system is an off the shelf solution that could really drive the market in the right direction.

“With its integrated energy generation facility it shows how we could actually reduce the investment needed for centralised national infrastructure by becoming net exporters of renewable energy.” 

Located at the BRE Innovation Park in Watford the Zero Bills home acts as a kit of essential parts. A steel frame and timber wall panels – all manufactured in the UK – is assembled while roof-mounted solar panels and a pump that recovers stale air through mechanical ventilations to be used as heat, are embedded into the house.

The Zero Bills home could provide enough energy to cover annual household bills in excess of £1300 while also contributing £1000 to annual car fuel costs. The prototype is aiming to be assessed under BRE’s new Home Quality Mark which provides a star rating system for the sustainability of new homes.

Zero prospect homes

If successful, the prototype could provide a cost-effective solution to the Government’s zero-carbon building shaped hole in its policy landscape. The Treasury announced in July that it was scrapping housebuilding regulations in order to streamline development. This led to the end of the proposed zero-carbon offsetting scheme for housebuilders.

Despite widespread calls for a replacement to the scheme, the Government has instead embarked on an ongoing game of ‘policy Jenga’ that has seen a variety of sudden changes to green policies introduced.

While the Government has established a new online platform aimed at stimulating innovation and informing construction companies of best practice when it comes to developing greener buildings, it has been left to the private sector to push the energy efficient buildings agenda.

A private company collaboration between UK solar developers WElink Energy and British Solar Renewables (BSR) and the China National Building Materials Group (CNBM) will see up to 8,000 zero-carbon homes built in the UK.

Green buildings at edie Live 2016

Green buildings is one of the key themes at edie Live 2016, which aims to provide a holistic view of the sustainability industry all in one place, whether you’re focusing on the strategy, operations or specifications for your organisation. 

The show will bring to life the major themes of the market, address the biggest challenges in the seminars and provide a showcase of leading suppliers for you to try before you buy.

Find out more and register to attend edie Live 2016 here

Matt Mace

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