Work begins on cutting-edge zero carbon development in Cambridge

Leading housebuilder Hill has started work on one of the UK’s largest zero carbon developments and is incorporating the findings from its pilot scheme for the Virido project.

Virido, a partnership with Cambridge City Council, comprises 208 zero carbon homes in Cambridge. The sustainable technology within the new homes is currently being refined to incorporate research from the award winning Virido Concept House which was built in advance of the larger site.

The properties at Virido will be built to Level 5 of the Code for Sustainable Homes and range from one bedroom apartments to four bedroom houses; 104 will be private properties sold through Hill and 104 will be social housing owned and managed by Cambridge City Council. They represent the next phase of the Great Kneighton development which will deliver 2,300 homes between Trumpington and Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

Virido Concept House

The research seeks to assess which sustainable features would be best suited to modern family life and included in the Virido development. Hill chose the Rayner family, through a competition, to live in the house rent and bill free for a year in return for participating in the study. The Rayners undergo regular monitoring and interviews by an academic from Leeds Beckett University, the findings of which feed directly into the features incorporated into the Virido site – so far modifications include an alteration to the mechanical ventilation heat recovery system (MVHR) and improvements to the technical cupboard.

Rob Hall, Deputy Managing Director at Hill, commented:

“Starting on site at Virido marks a significant milestone for this ground-breaking project. We are now able to incorporate the findings from the Concept Home and through this refinement we hope to create cutting-edge zero carbon homes which will provide year on year savings to meet the needs of modern families. By learning from the Rayners’ experiences, we are able to adjust our designs to ensure that we encapsulate the ideal balance between sustainability, functionality, comfort and affordability.”

Kevin Price, Executive Councillor for Housing at Cambridge City Council, commented:

“The Virido project is shaping up to be what we had hoped – a shining example of how the public sector can lead excellence in quality design and sustainability”

Sustainable features

Externally, the homes at Virido have been designed to provide a suitable thermal mass to even out extremes of temperature with MVHR systems for night purging of warm air. The building materials are sustainably sourced and have been selected with the long-term maintenance and high-quality appearance of the homes in mind.

Additional design features such as solar shading, deep window reveals, higher performance glass and interstitial blinds will ensure that living rooms do not exceed 28°C and bedrooms do not exceed 26°C for more than 1 percent of the occupied hours. Internally there are water efficient appliances and fixtures, ‘technical rooms’ to accommodate all the necessary equipment, triple-glazed windows and extensive insulation.

The landscape design features extensive green space, green roofs, ponds and trees. There will also be a development-wide rainwater harvesting system for all dwellings.

Work on the site will be completed in summer 2017.