From sustainable homes for the formerly homeless to super efficient modular homes for young people, Housing Digital talks with Bristol Housing Festival’s deputy project director, Jessie Wilde, about the many climate-conscious projects they’re helping to grow
What is the Bristol Housing Festival?
The Bristol Housing Festival (BHF) is a five-year project, hosting an ongoing conversation in various forms (including events, roundtables etc.) to incubate and pilot new ideas with the goal of finding scalable solutions.
We’re piloting a number of projects across the city in partnership with Bristol City Council and others, and we conduct research and evaluation to capture the lessons learnt and work toward replicability and system change.
It was founded by Jez Sweetland in response to the challenges we face as a city, and we continue to pursue the ambitions of the Festival to respond to the growing housing crisis, sustainability crisis, and inequalities exacerbated by these challenges.
How do organisations such as the BHF help to advance technological and sustainable innovation within housing?
The Bristol Housing Festival is essentially an innovation enabler, a mechanism for collaboration and partnership that creates the eco-system that innovation needs to thrive. The key to advancing technological and sustainable innovation is in whole-system change: new technologies cannot be forced into systems that weren’t designed for them.
In this, however, sits an incredible opportunity to rethink the system as a whole and redesign it with outcomes in mind – particularly sustainability and creating resilient communities. Our primary role is therefore bringing people together to have these conversations, and then working with partners to pilot and test solutions to advance best practice.
Some of the projects you are involved with utilise modern methods of construction. What are the benefits of building in this way?
MMC or modular construction is a method of building that precision-manufactures houses off site in factories, providing an alternative to traditional house building.
Modular homes are associated with a variety of benefits. They can go up faster than traditional builds and lend themselves to high levels of quality control. Offsite methods also enable the manufacture of highly energy-efficient buildings. They can be highly sustainable both in use and in the build process, and due to the precision engineering, the construction waste can be reduced considerably in comparison with a traditional build.
What is the Hope Rise ZED PODS scheme?
Hope Rise is an innovative mixed community of young people in a development of 11 ZED PODS (zero carbon, modular starter homes), constructed above the Chalks Road public car park in St George, Bristol.
It came about through a unique partnership between Bristol City Council, the Bristol Housing Festival, ZED PODS, and the YMCA, who share a vision for building affordable, quality, and energy-efficient accommodation for young people in the city.
The design of the ZED PODS modules is key to the success of this unique development. The modules have been designed and detailed to be both highly energy efficient and operate to net-zero carbon standards.
The homes have been optimised for energy efficiency and the lowest possible running costs, with solar panels to generate renewable electricity in the day; quiet micro air-source heat pumps for low-energy heating; controlled ventilation, which recovers usable heat from inside the building while bringing in fresh air; triple glazing; LED lighting; and energy-efficient appliances.
The environmental performance of these modular dwellings was critical in securing planning for this innovative development. Feedback from the YMCA is that the residents are settling in well and enjoying their new homes.
The pandemic has, of course, added its own stresses. However, we have been sent some lovely quotes from residents who are thrilled with their new home. We’re conducting post-occupancy evaluations to monitor the lived experience of residents over time, which will no doubt provide more accurate information.
What is the Emmaus rooftop homes scheme?
Emmaus Bristol plan to build up to 15 new low-carbon, affordable eco homes on the roof of their city-centre office. Their proposal, in partnership with Agile Homes, has been met with support by the community in St Pauls during consultation, and is expected to receive a decision on its planning application soon. The scheme aims to creatively utilise free land (air space) to create a community.
Alongside the homes, the scheme includes a shared food-growing and amenity space. Some of the people supported by Emmaus eventually want to live independently but experience barriers to renting including cost, credit history, competition, and references. This scheme is being designed to help tackle some of those challenges.
Why was it important to marry move-on accommodation for formerly homeless people with the need to be environmentally friendly?
The Emmaus TAMs are eco homes, so as well as having a light carbon footprint, they will be cheap to run – energy usage of up to 90% lower than a conventionally built home. There would be shared communal landscaped areas on the roof. The proximity to the Emmaus team means that support and companionship will be close by, meaning lower running costs for people who were formerly homeless but also (and perhaps more importantly) access to community.
At the Bristol Housing Festival, we firmly believe that you cannot address these challenges in isolation. The housing crisis and our climate crisis need to be addressed together alongside the other challenges our cities face, such as homelessness, skills shortages, unemployment, and recovery post-pandemic.
What is a TAM home?
A TAM is a one-bedroomed flexible, environmentally friendly home designed to make the most of small sites. The TAM design has the ability to change with the user needs, and has the potential to be combined with extra units and transported to different sites.
The TAMs are manufactured using renewable, carbon-capturing materials including timber and straw that minimise the environmental footprint and ensuring it is both cool in summer and warm in winter.
What other notable sustainable projects are you involved with?
Bristol City Council is partnering with Bristol Housing Festival, Modulous and AHR architects to develop new housing on Romney Avenue, Lockleaze. The scheme aims to provide high quality, affordable and sustainable homes on a small site located at 190 – 196 Romney Avenue. It is part of a wider programme to use modern methods of construction to improve the speed, cost, social value and delivery of new housing in Bristol.
SNUG is a Bristol-based social enterprise, supplying modular homes built using modern methods of construction, aimed at minimising their environmental impact. They embrace everything from large scale commercial development through to community led, sustainable housing projects.
BoKlok on the Brook
BoKlok UK Ltd is a sustainable, quality, and low-cost home provider jointly owned by Skanska and IKEA. The new development in Bristol – referred to as BoKlok on the Brook – will be situated on Airport Road and provide 173 much-needed homes. These homes will be available for market sale as well as social housing for Bristol City Council as part of the Bristol Housing Festival trialling innovative offsite housing solutions across the city.
Planning consent has been granted for Legal & General Modular Homes to deliver 185 homes in Lockleaze, Bristol. The scheme, which has been developed in conjunction with Bristol City Council, will see two-, three-, and four- bedroom houses along with one- and two-bedroom apartments developed on land at Bonnington Walk. 50% of the homes will be delivered as affordable housing and it is intended that these become part of Bristol City Council’s affordable housing stock.
All homes have been designed to achieve an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ‘A’ rating, a standard met by only around 1% of new and existing dwellings in England & Wales, and the site master plan has been created which will deliver a 4% net biodiversity gain following the development of this site.
What sustainability initiatives are you looking to get involved with?
Sustainability is a key agenda as part of the Bristol Housing Festival, and we look to incorporate sustainability into every project we are part of.
As an example, in April 2020, a consortium of partners led by YTKO – and including Bristol City Council, Bristol Housing Festival, BRE, and nine leading modular housing companies – were awarded an Innovate UK grant for their project, Enabling Housing Innovation for Inclusive Growth.
This is an 18-month programme working with multiple partners toward the delivery of a major Research, Development, and Innovation project in the use of modern methods of construction. Sustainability is a key aspect of each of the nine developments.
What will happen to the BHF once it reaches the end of its five years?
The Bristol Housing Festival was set up as a five year project which takes us to 2023. As the project progresses toward this date, we are constantly reevaluating what is needed and what we can offer into this space that is helpful for overcoming the barriers we face to tackling some of the key issues already mentioned.
So do watch this space…
More from the Sustainability Showcase series:
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