Health, Safety & Environmental

First eco-friendly social housing build for Hounslow

Question:
What’s green, clean and can save up to 70% on energy bills?

The answer is an eco-friendly affordablehousing development in Feltham, west London, built by Syntec Projects.

The forward-thinking construction company was pleased to welcome Hounslow Borough councillors and industry experts to a recent preview of its flagship low-energy build. In partnership with A2Dominion, The Woodsman is a range of 2 to 4-bed accommodation for affordable/ intermediate rent, due for completion this autumn. The 1,800sqf site comprises 4 houses and 20 flats, together housing up to 82 people.

Significantly, Syntec is one of the first builders to adopt Insulating Concrete Formwork (ICF) in a social housing development. The London-based company has been inspired by home-building models
throughout theUnited States and Northern Europe, where ICF is an established method on both large and small developments. Fundamentally, it’s a system that uses insulation instead of formwork, allowing the builder to lay modular lightweight blocks that are then filled with concrete and reinforcement.

Managing Director Ronan Bourke says: “ICF is not a new concept, far from it – self-builders in the UK have been using it for the last 40 years. It’s now coming to the forefront due to the necessity to protect the environment by reducing energy usage. With skilled labour shortages and significant increases in the cost of materials, ICF becomes the eco-friendly building product of choice as it only takes one trade to erect and relies on only three materials: Polystyrene, reinforcement and concrete.”

He adds: “In America and Northern Europe this type of housing is the norm and the tenants reap the rewards. Not only are their energy bills lower but they enjoy even temperatures with filtered air, so are generally experiencing a better quality of home than their counterparts in the UK.”

As a building method, ICF is an incredibly fast process, but the benefits for the householder are where the system really shines: a combination of the airtightness of the ICF system, triple-glazed windows and a heat recovery ventilation system means a much healthier living environment – ambient
temperatures with no droughts, condensation or mould; there’s no need for heating due to the highly insulating nature of the product.

However, by far the greatest benefit for householders is the savings on their energ bills: comparative data has shown energy savings of up to 70% from traditional methods of build. Another benefit is that outside noise can be reduced by 50db, this being very relevant in Hounslow, home of the sixth-busiest airport in the world. With two layers of insulation and the 150mm of mass concrete, the walls in these buildings become incredibly well insulated against noise.

The Woodsman development will have a monitoring system to measure householders’ energy consumption. If any residents are experiencing higher bills than expected, they can be advised on where they are wasting energy (for example, by leaving windows open: there’s no need as temperature is kept constant and stale air exchanged for fresh by the heat recovery ventilation unit.)

Ronan adds: “As a company, we believe there’s no reason why goodquality low-energy homes can’t be available to everyone, not just a privileged few. We really want to make a difference. It’s just changing the mindset, moving away from traditional brick building to a faster, modulated method that, in the long term, is more cost-effective.”

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