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Manage environmentally friendly projects

15th September 2022

manage environementally friendly projects

One of the ways that Seraph aims to promote sustainability is to manage environmentally friendly projects. One of our flagship management projects is the Great House Rise Eco-village in St Fagan’s. It is a revolutionary site that brings futuristic green technologies into the present day and has been featured in Channel 4 News’ clean energy homes report back in 2020. So here we will explore some of the groundbreaking sustainability practices and technologies that we help to maintain. 

Case Study: Great House Rise

Great House Farm including Great House Rise was a sustainable housing project constructed by LivEco with the backing of the Welsh Government. It is a small community on the west side of Cardiff, with the project being developed in phases around the old village pond.  The development has been constructed to comply with Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 and the low energy usage achieves above Passivhaus standards. Lifetime homes and co-housing principles have been adopted to get a sense of community with open balconies and staircases integrated into the building structure.

One aspect of the site that stands out is the abundance of nature both on and around the properties. This is by design as the project aims to promote biodiversity by protecting the nature that is already there and replacing habitats that cannot be protected. An example of this can be seen in the living roofs seen on each house. 

Other sustainable aspects of the project were:

  • Insulation: the type of insulation used helps prevent heat from escaping the building
  • Heating: NIBE unit is an efficient model where the running costs are low to keep properties warm
  • Ventilation: mechanical heat recovery units are incorporated into the NIBE unit, this is when the unit draws moist air away from kitchens and bathrooms and replaces it with fresh air from the outside.
  • Energy efficient lighting:  All of the light fittings are dedicated energy-efficient lights, this means a leaseholder’s carbon emissions are reduced by two tonnes.
  • Water use: toilets are fitted with dual flush systems and all appliances are low water usage, there is also a communal external tap that uses rainwater harvesting from the roof.
  • Recycling: There have been dedicated recycling bins installed within the home as part of its construction.
  • Materials:  timber used for the construction has been sourced and certified in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.

Structural Insulated Panels (SIP)

Using SIP for external wall panels was influenced by the ambition to achieve a very low airtightness level. (1.5 air changes @50Pa). The SIP block is effectively sheltered beneath a lightweight, engineered truss roof supported by full-height glulam columns. Thermowood has been used to form the rainscreens to the external walls and has been open-fixed horizontally on the long garden elevation. Great House Farm is a hybrid of timber technologies in which traditional load-bearing timber frames, SIPs and thermowood form the external walls with timber frames’ open panels providing the structure of the party walls.


Energy Use

One of these areas key to sustainable practices is the use of energy in the eco-village. All houses on the site are fitted with photovoltaic cells (PV cells) more commonly known as solar panels. This, combined with the use of battery storage allows the site to not need any outside electricity. Furthermore, depending on how much energy is sold back to the grid a resident’s yearly energy bill could actually be negative, with each house producing more electricity than it uses.

Another area where revolutionary sustainable practices are seen in how the houses are heated. Heating homes account for around 40% of global energy usage and contribute 20% to around 20% of our CO2 emissions. However, Great House Farm doesn’t contribute to this at all. Not only are the properties very well insulated, all achieving an A EPC rating, but they also use heat pumps for heating and cooling. These highly efficient devices use temperature differences to heat and cool spaces kind of like the reverse of how fridges work. As a result of this, there is no need for fossil fuels to be used in gas or oil boilers on the site.

Overall, this development demonstrates without fuss that modest increases in specification criteria over building regulations requirements, together with attention to detail in the use of standard components, can deliver sustainable homes at an affordable cost end of the spectrum. 

If you want to know how you can make your development more sustainable feel free to read more of our sustainability series. If you have a sustainable development that would benefit from an experienced managing agent in this area, you can get in touch with us here.