The Eco Drive project in Handsworth, Birmingham, stands as a groundbreaking initiative in the field of sustainable housing development. Launched in response to the UK government's ambitious 2025 Future Homes Standard, this project aimed to construct 12 homes that would not only meet but exceed the stringent environmental regulations three years ahead of the mandated deadline. Besblock, a Telford based company specialising in construction products, acquired by Aggregate Industries, played a pivotal role in this project collaborating with housing association Midland Heart and Tricas Construction Ltd to transform a vision of energy-efficient, low-carbon homes into reality.
The Future Homes Standard states a 75-80% reduction in carbon emissions compared to homes built under the 2013 regulations. Eco Drive sought to demonstrate that this level of sustainability could be achieved using traditional construction materials, thereby dismissing that green homes must solely rely on unconventional or expensive building techniques.
Besblock supplied in excess 2000m2 of Besblock Star Performer product for the construction of the external and party walls of the homes, proving that sustainable homes can be built using traditional construction materials.
The project started in March 2021 and was successfully completed by May 2022, ahead of the original schedule, with an estimated overall project cost for the 12 plots of £2,169,373. This scheme truly was a testament to the exceptional collaboration among stakeholders, including Besblock, Midland Heart, Tricas Construction Ltd and Birmingham City University, and allowed for the sharing of expertise and problem-solving across the entire project team.
The project aligned itself with the anticipated 2025 Future Homes Standard and demonstrated that it is possible to create homes to the 2025 regulation that are traditionally built and can contribute to substantial carbon reduction – thus setting a precedent for the construction industry, with encouragement to embrace sustainable practices.
Dr Tony Hopkin, Head of Construction, Quality and Innovation also commented: “The Future Homes Standard (FHS) presents an interesting challenge for the industry and end users, in that it has a significant effect on the way we design, construct, use, and maintain new homes. At Midland Heart, we are keen to understand the implications of the FHS on both us and our residents, and by building and understanding sites that model the FHS today, we can develop a robust approach to the FHS in 2025. For me, the building fabric is critical to the performance of the properties and reducing operational carbon emissions. By improving the fabric, we have significantly reduced the heating demands of the properties, thus reducing the energy bills for our residents at a crucial time; and, we have proven that this can be done using traditional construction methods. Besblock played a key role in ensuring that the homes we have built are not only fit for the present, but also fit for the future.”
With the houses now occupied, ongoing monitoring and analysis are underway to assess their performance in real-world conditions. This information gathering exercise will provide valuable data to refine future projects and ensure long-term sustainability.