Wales has always been very progressive with its planning policy, and had been targeting higher energy and sustainability standards than other parts of the UK. They are usually jobs that are a pleasure to work on, as they represent a satisfying challenge. Wales adopted the policy of all new developments to be built to Code level 4 for the Energy section in 2010, this means that all buildings had to achieve an improvement in Energy use over 25% better than the building regulations requirement. It also gave developers the option of how they wanted to achieve this with energy efficiency measures or using a renewable energy strategy.

This particular client was a self builder and therefore particularly invested in the future of the house, they opted for a strategy that was mainly focussed on low energy use to suit their requirements for a warm, low energy house. The entirety of the strategy was built around energy reduction, although this was challenging and required us to think outside the box for some additional features ensure they could meet the level of energy efficiency. We went all out with low U values, accredited construction details, super efficient boiler and a waste water heat recovery system, that we have found performs particularly well in SAP calculations. At an early stage M Sustainability put together a document that illustrated how the different features worked and could be used.

The development itself is located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, therefore the materials used within the house were of particular importance, the client had planned to use natural locally sourced slate on the external facade to help it blend into the surrounding areas, this was important for planning and for the client, and for surrounding neighbours. Careful choosing of materials is an important aspect of Sustainability, within the Code assessment materials is considered and there is acknowledgement of responsible sourcing and showing that the materials have a low transport history, but it can be challenging to compare materials and reward considerate sourcing if the materials used do not have the relevant documentation, whilst this section did achieve a number of credits and its sustainability targets there is more that can be done to recognise careful sourcing.

At the later design stage Lukins Technical and Design were brilliant at taking on the challenges of low u values and accredited construction detail and were trained in designing to meet Code for Sustainable Homes standards, we had some challenges to meet Lifetime Homes criteria, but with clever design work, Lukins Technical achieved the criteria whilst still honouring the design.

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