Awards include 2010 EMCBE Environmental Sustainability Award.
Unity Gardens is a pioneering small development of six carbon negative single-storey earth sheltered dwellings. With a radical design, allowing for optimum use of the natural heat from the sun and non-reliance of fossil fuels for energy, the development of three 2bed and three 3bed bungalows is one of the first self sufficient social housing scheme of its kind in the UK.
By installing and integrating renewable energy technology such as photovoltaic roofing and a communal 6Kw wind turbine, tenants benefit from no energy bills, safeguarding them from the social economic issue of fuel poverty – a common problem amongst social rented accommodation.
The Scheme achieved a Code for Sustainable Homes Rating of Level 4.
For the first time in the history of social housing provision, the project delivered homes which all:
- Achieved zero heating status
- Generate an annual surplus of electricity
- Harvest rainwater
- Have their own gardens and fruit and vegetable allotments allowing occupants to grow their own food
The earth sheltered homes also collectively:
- Encourage tenants to recycle as much household waste as possible through the Local Authority’s recycling scheme through the installation of composting facilities
- Dramatically reduce tenant’s fuel bills through highly insulated properties, the use of renewable energy and the lifestyle changes they’ve made.
Green features include:
- Earth bundings – earth mounds were constructed to assist in insulating the buildings. The earth-sheltered buildings were also covered with evergreen plants to help mitigate (absorb) Co2 instead of generating it.
- Photovoltaic solar panel roofing (mounted photovoltaic modules) was (were) installed to convert sunlight to electricity with surplus being sold back to the National Grid.
- Fruit and vegetable allotments were allocated to tenants to allow them to grow their own food produce
- A vertical access 6Kw wind turbine
- Rainwater harvesting was installed to the roof of the properties to reduce mains water consumption. All WCs and washing machines are fed with harvested rainwater.
- Orientation – all dwellings were constructed south facing to maximise solar gain and reduce the heat load requirement within each dwelling.
“Unity Gardens has pushed the boundariesof our design and construction knowledge. It has been a challenging project with many discoveries for application to future projects. As a principle contractor in the project team, Robert Woodhead has helped create a very special living opportunity for our tenants for which we can all be proud.”
John Howes (Chief Executive), Lincolnshire Rural Housing Association