Sustainability has a whole host of different meanings. Sometimes it can seem really complicated. But what it's really about is leaving a world to our children that we haven’t degraded.
Anything you can do to make your lifestyle more sustainable is a positive step. We choose to focus on houses because where your home is and how it is built can have such a massive effect on your carbon footprint and how sustainable your life is.
When we started our journey back in 2004 we thought we knew a lot about creating sustainable houses, but we also knew we had a lot to learn. That’s why we’ve been working with world leaders in sustainability like Leeds Beckett University and White Arkitekter to help us shape how we create our places and research the exact specifications required to build a house that hardly requires heating.
So how do you create a sustainable house?
First of all, it’s not just about the building. That’s important, but it is just one part of the story.
We could build ‘eco-homes’ with ultra-low heating requirements out in the countryside. But that would mean bulldozing green fields to create houses for people that then need to drive miles into the city every morning to get to work.
You’ve got to start with where
That’s why we only build houses on brownfield sites in easy walking or cycling distance of city centres. It means rather than a stressful and polluting commute every morning, people living in Citu Homes can take the zero-carbon option of a leisurely stroll or quick bike-ride, and be travelling for far less time each day than their co-workers who live miles out of the city.
The place matters
It’s not just the location in relation to the city that matters, but the immediate place around you that is important. Everyone knows property is all about location, and if no one wants to live there, then it’s not sustainable.
That’s why we invest so much in our places.
At the Climate Innovation District we’re raising the whole landscape up several meters so none of the development has to be intersected by roads, creating a car-free landscape of green spaces for all to enjoy. We’re also retaining lots of the trees currently at the site, and planting over forty more trees so the riverbank is peppered with trees.
The Citu Home has been designed to tackle climate change by being so energy efficient that a gas central heating system is no longer required. On all but the coldest days the house won’t require any heating at all, being kept warm purely by the heat generated by the people and appliances within it.
It achieves this by bringing together a number of crucial elements, from its timber-framed design to its MVHR system and smart home features designed to reduce energy use.
The Citu Home is built using our timber-framed housing solution, developed in partnership with Leeds Beckett University. It’s designed to reduce carbon emissions at every stage. It does this in part because of timber's excellent thermal properties, but also because timber is renewable and requires very little energy to produce. Each tonne of timber locks away 800 kilograms of CO2, whereas a tonne of brick takes over 250 kilograms of CO2 to manufacture.
The design achieves extremely high standards of insulation, far better than those of the average house in the UK or even a typical new build.
Once a house has excellent standards of insulation, the majority of heat is lost through drafts. These occur because most homes have poor standards of air-tightness. The Citu Home is built to be over ten times more air-tight than UK building regulations. This keeps the heat in the house, whilst the MVHR system maintains a flow of fresh air, preventing damp.
All Citu Homes use a Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery System. This captures the heat generated by appliances by removing it from exiting stale air, and transfers it to incoming fresh air. This maintains a constant flow of fresh air coming into the property, whilst keeping heat locked in. Over 90% of heat is transferred, so heating requirements are up to ten times lower than an average UK home.
Our digitally enabled homes are controlled via our Actuate app, which allows you to monitor your energy and water use. By showing you exactly how much you are using, we give you the power to reduce your consumption.
Home & Away switch
The Home and Away switch lets you turn off all lights and un-necessary appliances remotely. So, if you get to work and realise you’ve left the iron on, you can turn it off via the actuate app.
The UK construction industry creates 120 million tonnes of waste per year, and is responsible for one-third of all waste sent to landfill. By building the Citu Home in our state of the art manufacturing facility, we can massively reduce waste. Every component is cut to exact specifications in a controlled environment, and timber off-cuts will be burned to heat the facility with renewable biomass.