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31st August 2010, 2:28pm
Blueprint for a new breed of green affordable homes
Construction of new housing Academics from the University of Lincoln have teamed up with a major housing provider to develop a new generation of eco-friendly affordable homes.

The University will work with Longhurst Group to devise an accurate method for calculating the carbon-footprint of future housing developments. The aim is to ensure Longhurst’s new homes achieve the highest environmental standards possible while also being affordable to rent or buy for people on low incomes.

Longhurst Group is a not-for-profit housing organisation with headquarters in Boston, Lincolnshire. It manages more than 16,000 homes in 40 local authority areas spanning the Midlands, East of England, Humberside and Yorkshire.

The collaboration is being part-funded by the Government through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership project. It will allow Longhurst to benefit from the expertise of the Centre for Sustainable Architecture and Environments (CSAAE), based in the University’s Lincoln School of Architecture.

Dr Behzad Sodagar, Reader in Architecture at the University of Lincoln and Co-Director of the CSAAE, said: "We have previously developed carbon footprinting tools for other applications but not for domestic buildings. Housing is one of the main contributors to climate change, so any initiative that introduces carbon footprinting into the development of new homes is welcome. Although the scope of this project is specifically new builds, we envisage that lessons learned could be applicable to refurbishment of existing housing as well."

The KTP will run for two years and a Sustainability Design Officer will be appointed as KTP Associate to work alongside Longhurst staff and School of Architecture academics and students.

A ‘predictive modelling tool’ will be devised which will enable Longhurst to calculate the environmental performance of different design options for new housing developments. It will be based on a holistic approach to sustainable development, incorporating sustainable site planning, energy-efficient building design and efficient use of materials and resources.

The University of Lincoln has a strong track-record of developing models for sustainable development. It was involved in the design of the award-winning Sustainable Woodlands Community Hall, based at the Hill Holt Wood social enterprise near Lincoln, as part of a previous KTP.

Longhurst Group recognises that climate change is a very real threat to economic, environmental and social stability. The Climate Change Bill of 2008 proposes a target of reducing carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050, and by between 26 per cent and 32 per cent by 2020. This is one of the factors driving the organisation to take a firm approach to its environmental impact.

Longhurst has adopted the SHIFT (Sustainable Homes Index for Tomorrow) framework to tackle these issues. SHIFT covers four main areas: new build, existing stock, offices and management strategy. The KTP will address the first element of the framework, enabling Longhurst and its consortium partners to better assess the sustainability of new builds.

John Fletcher, HR Director for Longhurst Group, said: "We have become increasingly aware of our ethical and environmental responsibilities over recent years, both as a landlord and an employer. We manage a building programme of more than 1,000 homes a year and recognise our role as an influential body within the housing and business sector. This KTP is an exciting new collaboration between Longhurst Group and the University of Lincoln which will hopefully open the door to other opportunities for undergraduates and postgraduates."

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