Eco-friendly Development: Using Modular Construction and Tech to Reduce Carbon Footprint

by | Apr 20, 2021

Eco-friendly development is housebuilding’s trump card in meeting the 2008 Climate Change Act’s targeted 80% reduction in greenhouse emissions.

Building construction and operation is currently responsible for an estimated 40% of UK emissions. Environmental considerations are now as important as social features in newbuild housing provision and Hilltop routinely considers both as part of its lending criteria.

Talo Homes’ Honeywell development in South Molton, Devon, uses modular construction and state-of-the-art energy technology to significantly reduce environmental impact.

Structural Insulated Panels

The 14 units are built using Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) – insulated foam sandwiched between engineered wooden boards. Aside from commercial benefits such as the cost, speed and flexibility of construction using off-site manufactured panels, SIPs are the building material of the 21st century. Significantly they satisfy, where relevant, levels 4-6 (6 being the maximum) of the Code for Sustainable Homes:

  • Energy saving – one of the most airtight and insulated building systems available, SIPs require approximately 50% less energy to control and maintain temperature.
  • Resource saving – fabrication uses less raw materials and up to 24% less energy. The wood used is sustainable, with less than 10% wasted in the production process. The insulated foam comprises earthwool – recycled glass fibres bonded by renewable bio-based materials.
  • Less polluting – modern SIPs contain negligible levels of Volatile Organic Compounds and harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde.
Construction progress / installation of SIPs – February 2021

Energy technology

Talo will be installing renewable energy and home management technology in each of the Honeywell units. A self-learning, artificial intelligence system controls heating and lighting that reduces consumption by a minimum of 20%.

Each room is independently heated using infrared panels that, controlled by artificial intelligence, are up to 50% more efficient than traditional radiators.  

Photovoltaic solar panels generate electricity, stored in efficient batteries for future use and topped-up from the National Grid only when needed. Conversely, at times when units generate more electricity than they consume, surplus energy passes back into the National Grid. As a consequence, all houses will achieve “net-zero” electricity usage when completed.

The development progresses according to schedule with completion expected in February 2022. Of the partnership with Hilltop, Talo Homes’ Founder and Director, Jamie MacDonald-Murray commented:

“Talo Homes are excited to work with Hilltop Credit Partners on our development in South Molton. Their development experience, particularly their understanding of OSM (off-site manufacturing) systems made the difference in understanding our development finance requirements, and they were able to take a commercial view to work within our timetable and requirements.”

With considerable experience in creating high-yielding solar parks, Jamie has plans for similar eco-friendly development across the South West. Honeywell demonstrates the role SME developers can play in adhering to the national framework for tacking climate change.  

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