Green house of the future opens its door

Minister for Environment Alex Attwood joined by Kirsty McQuoid head of public affairs at PR's ME and John McClatchey managing director of Green Future NI, builders of Northern Ireland's first zero carbon house, the 'Green Future House'.
Minister for Environment Alex Attwood joined by Kirsty McQuoid head of public affairs at PR's ME and John McClatchey managing director of Green Future NI, builders of Northern Ireland's first zero carbon house, the 'Green Future House'.
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An Armagh based sustainable construction firm has developed the most environmentally friendly house in Northern Ireland whose energy savings are unparalleled.

Green Future NI has created the innovative ‘Green Future House’, a pioneering zero carbon blue-print build which showcases how affordable and accessible it is to build an energy cost saving zero carbon house which not only meets but exceeds the Government’s required transition to mass construction of new‘zero carbon homes’ by 2016.

The creation of the house follows the announcement by the The Department of Social Development (DSD), in its Regional Development Strategy 2035, that as a result of increasing population and a trend towards ever smaller households around 11,000 new houses need to be built every year here.

With all new homes to be built as zero carbon by 2016 in Northern Ireland under current government legislation and with councils here each accountable for meeting carbon reduction targets under the EU Directive, Green Future NI has successfully addressed the major challenge of how to build energy efficient homes at low costs ahead of its legislative introdution in four years time.

Most private housing is built to statutory building control standards but with improvements to these standards being introduced on 31st October 2012, 28 senior Building Control officials visited the ‘Green Future House’ in Armagh recently to look at the energy efficient concepts and building materials used in this ‘prototype’ build. DSD Minister Nelson McCausland has announced an additional £12 million investment to improve energy efficiency of housing which highlights the importance of creating superior performing homes which will cut home energy bills and help councils meet these carbon reduction targets.

As a live working testbed, the ‘Green Future House’ acts as a showcase helping address critical questions around affordable, energy efficient housing for social housing associations, government, developers and homeowners. The need for the industry to unlock the key to creating low-cost, volume zero carbon housing is now more vital than ever and Green Future NI believes it has provided the answer. The working template is being used to help the housing industry arm itself with the knowledge and experience to make this a reality.

Green Future NI collaborated with Invest NI and The University of Ulster which carried out thermal performance testing on the Green Future House. The University found that the house is 77 per cent more energy efficient than ordinary houses, thus providing huge saving on fuel bills. This house is also the first in the province to be awarded five years no council rates under the now defunct Low Carbon and Zero Carbon Homes Scheme. Green Future NI is lobbying for reintroduction of this incentive scheme.

Capable of near-zero energy bills and a biological waste water treatment plant which does not even require a soakaway or percolation area, water is reused twice in the zero carbon house. With no need for fossil fuels in this house as it heated using a heat recovery system, energy fuel bills which include heating and electricity are cut by on average 79 per cent a year.

John McClatchey Managing Director of Green Future NI said: “These savings speak for themselves and with Green Future NI proving that zero carbon homes can be built at the same cost as ordinary homes it is economically and environmentally unresourceful to build anything other than zero carbon housing”.

Minister for Environment Alex Attwood who officially opened the ‘Green Future House’ said:

“Energy efficient homes have lower running costs and as such also have an important role to play in reducing fuel poverty. I therefore wish to encourage those in the building industry to take on the challenge of improving the energy efficiency of their houses and recognise the wider role they have in improving the lives of the poorest in our society and in shaping a clean and green future for everyone.

“Improving the energy efficiency of housing provides an opportunity to develop new ideas in design and construction and I welcome the innovation which has been shown in building these Zero and Low Carbon homes of the future”.