UK’s first all year round Solar House to be built in Leicestershire
The UK’s first ‘Solar House’ to be solely heated by the sun’s energy all year round is to be built by Caplin Homes in Great Glen, Leicestershire.
Using novel and simple ideas, the Solar House will showcase a range of sustainable technologies. Solar energy collected in summer will be stored by heating the ground beneath the building and this energy will be retrieved through a heat pump when needed in the winter.
Hybrid solar panels will collect enough heat from the sun to provide heating and hot water and twice the electricity needed to run the system. This enables the house to achieve “Zero Carbon” status i.e. it generates more energy than it uses.
Following planning approval from Harborough District Council, the detached two storey Solar House features some innovative architecture including solar panels on a roof canopy bordered by areas of living sedum and bronze metallic solar wall panels which pre-heat the incoming ventilation air.
There will also be large numbers of south facing triple glazed windows.The Solar House is set in secluded open countryside with many ecological features incorporated in the two acre site.
The Solar House’s groundbreaking technology has put it in line for support from the Department for Energy and Climate Change under their “Energy Entrepreneurs Fund”. The fund rewards innovative UK sustainability projects with funding assistance and a decision on the Solar House is expected this month.
Michael Goddard, a Director of Caplin Homes, said “We are very excited to have been given the green light to build the Solar House and to demonstrate that Zero Carbon living can be achieved at reasonable cost.
“Our ambition is to prove to UK house builders that it is possible for them to build houses to these standards and to provide them with the means to do so. This will make a significant contribution to our country meeting its 2020 carbon reduction targets and enable householders to be set free from ever increasing energy bills.”
The main aim of the project is to demonstrate to the building industry that it is possible to build housing that is Zero Carbon and still remains commercially attractive. The elimination of energy costs are expected to provide at least 10% return on the capital costs of the technology. The house is predicted to be self sufficient in energy for most of the year, only requiring support from the energy store during 10 weeks in the winter months.
Building work on the Solar House will start in February and will be completed by August. The energy flows in the house will be intensively monitored by a full time MSc student from the Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development at De Montfort University for the first full year of its life.
Dr Andrew Wright, of De Montfort University’s Institute of Sustainable Energy and Development (IESD), said: “De Montfort University will provide consultancy support and assist with project management, act as an independent assessor of the building’s performance and will make the results of their analysis available to the public.
“We are delighted to play such a key role in this important project which could prove a milestone in energy efficient living.”
The project will be managed by a consortium consisting of Caplin Homes, who have developed the patented energy storage technology, Newform Energy who provide the solar collectors, heat pump and control system, John Cotterill Sustainable Architecture, who has designed the house and De Montfort University who will provide consultancy support and assist with project management. The University will also act as an independent assessor of the building’s performance and will make the results of their analysis available in the public domain.
When the house is completed in August the consortium will stage a number of seminars catering for various interest groups. These will be held in the house itself with the technology on display to those attending the events.
De Montfort University will publish an interim performance report in April 2014 and a full 12 months analysis the following August. The expectation is that the technology will be rolled out into the building industry through a number of pilot projects partnered with house builders.
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Notes to the Editor:
- Caplin Low Energy Homes specialise in building the most energy efficient timber frame houses
- The timber frame houses reduce heating and maintenance costs and are no more expensive to buy than conventional homes
- Stuart Caplin built his first timber framed home in the 1970s and has been at the forefront of timber frame housing construction in the UK for many years
- In 2006 legislation was passed requiring more stringent energy standards to be adopted with a requirement that all UK homes be carbon neutral by 2016
- The Caplin Homes team have returned to Scandinavia for inspiration and new technology to help maintain their position as UK industry leaders in building in carbon neutral homes
- Caplin Low Energy Homes works with architect John Cotterill to build homes that innovative materials that embody energy and cost efficiency in their construction
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