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Work starts on new net zero carbon homes in North Norfolk

As world leaders gather in Egypt to discuss the climate emergency at the COP27 summit, a Norfolk housing association has started construction of its first net zero operational carbon homes, in north Norfolk.

Broadland Housing is building 19 new homes at Northrepps using a range of property types to respond to local housing need.  Eight of the homes are for affordable rent and two for shared ownership; the remaining nine homes are being developed by Broadland Housing’s subsidiary Broadland St Benedicts for open market sale; the proceeds from these homes will go towards subsidising the affordable homes.

The new homes will feature an enhanced insulated timber frame, triple glazed windows, air source heat pumps, air tightness with mechanical ventilation, and heat recovery to minimise energy demand.

Photovoltaic solar panels on the homes’ roofs are predicted to generate sufficient electricity over the course of the year to off-set the estimated electricity usage for the average occupancy of each property.

The project has brought together a range of local experts to deliver on Broadland Housing’s commitment to low carbon impact construction.

Andrew Savage, executive development director at Broadland Housing, explained, “That commitment is particularly aimed at reflecting affordable ‘lived in’ costs, an issue which is becoming increasingly important for householders in the current energy crisis.

“The Project Team has been exploring the changes Norfolk developers and construction industry need to implement to achieve net zero carbon.

“We have also been working with local contractors and suppliers to encourage them to engage with their existing supply chains to increase the effectiveness of workmanship and products, which can be replicated on future projects.  The key is to find the ‘sweet’ spot between construction technique and cost.”

The new net zero operational carbon homes are forecast to be completed in spring 2024, when households in housing need with a local connection to Northrepps and physically adjoining parishes will be able to bid on North Norfolk District Council’s website for them.

The development at Northrepps is part of an ongoing effort to reduce the environmental impact of the new homes that Broadland Housing builds.

“The COP27 summit is focussing everyone’s attention on climate change, but the issues of environmental impact and energy affordability have been on our radar for a long time,” said Mr Savage.

“We are now turning our attention to reducing the embodied carbon from the manufacturing and construction process along with providing biodiversity net gain on our developments.  For example, trees used in manufacturing the timber frame that have absorbed carbon, along with a rewilding area adjacent to the site, will help off-set carbon emissions from the construction process itself.

“Work is now in progress on future schemes to source construction materials more locally and provide wetlands for surface water drainage and nutrient neutrality.”