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The UK builds its first net-zero-energy neighborhood

UK developers Ssassy Property are building Springfield Meadows in Abingdon, Oxfordshire — 25 net zero houses that will be powered entirely by solar energy.

Nine of the 25 new homes are designated as “affordable,” as required by UK planning laws. But these houses aren’t cheap, with prices reaching up to £1 million, depending on the plot. (Being that the development is only 11 miles from Oxford city center, it’s not hugely surprising. And the UK has a chronic affordable housing problem as it is.) House sizes range from two to five bedrooms. Six plots are still available.

Ssassy’s partner, Greencore, is building the Springfield Meadows properties. Greencore builds each net zero house to Passivhaus energy efficiency standards. According to the Passivhaus Trust, the definition of a Passivhaus is:

A building in which thermal comfort can be achieved solely by post-heating or post-cooling the fresh air flow required for a good indoor air quality, without the need for additional recirculation of air.

Green features

In addition to being powered entirely by solar and having energy storage batteries, Springfield Meadows net zero houses have further green energy features such as:

  • Low carbon heat from heat pumps serving under-floor heating and domestic hot water
  • Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery (MVHR) system, which provides fresh, warm air by capturing the heat from the exhaust air from the house
  • A dedicated circuit to allow for future installation of a car-charging pod
  • Biond — a low-carbon, closed panel, timber frame construction system insulated with Lime-Hemp and natural fibre insulation to achieve equivalent of Passivhaus Air-tightness below 1 air change per hour
  • Use of high quality Kebony timber cladding — the Kebony technology is an environmentally friendly, patented process that enhances the properties of sustainable softwood

“We think is the first development of zero-carbon, net zero energy houses in the country,” said Ian Pritchett of Ssassy Property to Triangle News.

The UK Green Building Council convened an industry task group in October 2018 to develop a definition for net zero carbon buildings in the UK. The framework was set out in an April 2019 report. It is intended as a first step toward delivering buildings in line with the aims of the Paris Agreement. You can read the report here.

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.