Note - this blog was first submitted to e-news source Place North West for their Green Week feature.
At _space group, we have been working on an intensive research and development programme in which our aim was to develop a housing model both environmentally friendly in the strongest possible terms, and cost effective. The result of this has been Spacehus – our timber framed, offsite manufacture, modular building, which complies with the Sustainable Homes Code at level 4 and can be delivered for £80,000.
The costs have been broken down into three areas – materials £51,000, labour, £16,000 and plant/overhead/profit, £13,000. We have not included land purchase costs or site infrastructure in this price (however we have accounted for a raft foundation solution), as part of our goal with Spacehus is to encourage collaborative working. While the site infrastructure is not included in the cost, we have calculated onsite labour costs, and these are greatly reduced thanks to the offsite manufacture nature of the scheme. Not only does this have the clear benefit of being able to reduce site time to just 20 days, the eco-benefit is that we are delivering a scheme that drastically reduces the associated waste and pollution normally seen on site during a traditional build.
What makes Spacehus different is that we used manufacturing principles to develop it. We looked at techniques used in the automotive and aerospace industries, and we found that an offsite manufacture approach is an environmentally sound one, with this assembly line approach being more efficient, saving time during pre-construction and creating fewer components, which saves on waste and excess building parts. Indeed, each Spacehus is made up of just 19 components, with separate bathroom pods that are fitted during the process.
We have opted to focus on using an integrated, limited supply chain for delivering Spacehus. Cutting down on suppliers provides significant eco benefits as each part of the manufacture and assembly process generates fewer carbon miles.
Swedish timber framed housing manufacturers Trivselhus have developed a Climate Shield for the concept, which provides the building with a tight external envelope, dramatically cuts internal energy waste and helps us to provide potential Spacehus owners with what we forecast to be energy bills of just £10 per week.
We are using
We have used an efficient condensing gas boiler to heat the building. We spent considerable time deciding on the best heat source to use, as we needed to balance capital cost with energy savings.
With the gas boiler the house costs £10 per week to run. It is also possible to retro fit photovoltaic panels to the roof through a feed in tariff investment arrangement. This could potentially supply the electricity for the dwelling, meaning the only cost would be £2 per week for gas.
This approach is the future of the industry as it illustrates how both the housing and construction industries can bounce back from a time of crisis with a solution that is leaner, greener and better for the environment.
The future is Spacehus - a visualisation of a potential Spacehus scheme