More | Better. An alternative approach to housing.

more-better-coverDelighted to have participated in the excellent More | Better – an evaluation of the potential of alternative approaches to inform housing delivery in Wales report by Ed Green and others at Cardiff University.

The compelling More | Better report, consisting of a spectrum of case studies and commentaries from expert contributors, concludes that there is no single housing ‘silver bullet’, but that there is potential for more, better housing through a combination of innovative delivery pathways and construction techniques. And the innovative delivery pathways considered include Passivhaus, the Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard, and the Living Building Challenge.

“Affordable housing is uniquely placed to benefit from the philosophy and application of the Living Building Challenge and aligns well with and will assist with adherence to the Welsh Well-being of Future Generations Act (2015)”

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In the absence of a Welsh, national mandate for zero carbon, more onerous standards including CfSH Level 6, Passivhaus and the Living Building Challenge all provide optional pathways to 43 higher standards of environmental performance. 

 

The report concludes:

Wales should lead the way by placing affordable housing and affordable warmth at the centre of national policy, with homes and places that meet our needs, now and in the future. We must stop thinking purely in terms of capital costs. Construction that drains resources should be replaced with buildings that generate resources – that are energy positive and carbon negative. This fundamental perspective shift is in line with the Wales Future Generations Act 2015.

  • By employing alternative approaches, we could be constructing new homes and neighbourhoods in a more contextually appropriate way, with greater long term value.
  • Alternative approaches have the potential to deliver affordable homes in parallel with more established methods, so long as knowledge is shared with commissioners and constructors.
  • Different delivery pathways and construction techniques could lead to more diverse housing that is better quality, more fit-for-purpose, more affordable and more sustainable.
  • Further benefits could include the growth of employment in Wales, a national supply chain, greater long term resilience, and renewable energy infrastructure as a source of income.
  • The creation and maintenance of sustainable communities could provide a new focus for post-industrial Wales, facilitating joined-up development that works at a local level.

The More | Better report should become a touch-stone housing reference for change. And as such should be on must-read lists, not only for those in the Welsh housing sector, but for anyone interested and engaged in the future of built environment sustainability standards and alternative ‘innovative pathways’

Download the More | Better full document and executive summary here

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FMB Building a Greener Britain

In a week when Ken Livingston and joined forces with Sian Berry (Green Party) against Boris Johnson, in their pursuit for the next London Mayor, warning of his negative and regressive green views and plans, the FMB (Federation of Master Builders) released a press statement calling Boris Johnson’s vision for London housing – “fresh thinking’.

Details of the FMB campaign can be found at Building a Greener Britain

Jayne Curtis at the FMB has provided the following  commentary:

 As you will see from the press release the FMB says: “Boris Johnson, the Conservative Party mayoral candidate for London, hits the nail on the head when he says that fresh thinking is needed to get more homes built, and that the quality of what we build is as important as the quantity, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) commenting on
his housing manifesto, ‘Building a Better London’.”

The press release goes on to say: “The question still remains about what to do with London’s existing housing stock? Boris Johnson needs to consider how to make London’s existing housing stock greener and more energy efficient.”

The FMB would also like to point out that it does not favour any mayoral candidate and is keen to work with whoever is elected. The FMB works with all political parties; as you will see from the Building a Greener Britain campaign, which is endorsed by David Cameron, Leader of the Conservative Party, and Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party.

The Building a Greener Britain campaign is focusing on refurbishment and how to reduce carbon emissions in the built environment. The FMB has commissioned research which is being conducted by the Low Carbon Futures team at the Oxford University Environmental Change Institute and is being lead by Gavin Killip, one of the authors of the 40% House report, and Dr Nick Eyre, former Director of Strategy at the Energy Saving Trust.

The vast majority of buildings that are with us now will be around in 2050, the date when the Government hopes to have lowered carbon emissions by 80%, with buildings contributing 47% of the UK’s total carbon emissions it is therefore vital that something is done to look at how we can reduce carbon emissions from the existing building stock.

With three quarters of FMB members carrying out RMI work on existing buildings, the FMB has a key role to play in helping the Government achieve its target to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. The ground breaking research will present a series of practical policy recommendations aimed at government which will help encourage
householders to make their homes greener. In order to help the government the FMB strongly believes that builders should play a full and constructive role in building the new greener Britain.