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Green Building News

U.K. Pushes Ahead with Plans for Eco-Towns

Four have been authorized by the government and now seek local approval

A U.K. eco-town This U.K. site, in Upton, Northampton, was originally earmarked for conventional development. The plans were completely transformed, however, to create a sustainable community. Several different architects and builders have been involved, so building styles range from traditional Arts and Crafts to modern towers with pyramid roofs. One aim of the project is to show that it's possible to build to high environmental standards without futuristic designs.
Image Credit: vor Samuels for Directgov

The British government originally supported proposals for 10 energy efficient and sustainably built housing communities – known in England as eco-towns. But local resistance trimmed the list of viable proposals to four.

Still, green building advocates in the U.K. are celebrating, since any advance for low-carbon housing, especially affordable housing built on a relatively large scale, is considered a major victory. The four projects – planned for the counties of Cornwall, Hampshire, Norfolk, and Oxfordshire – would accommodate about 30,000 residents among them.

If approved by local planning departments, the eco-towns will be constructed over the next five years to at least Level 4 of Britain’s Code for Sustainable Homes, which ranks sustainable construction features from Level 1, for minimal standards, to Level 6, for buildings that meet the highest standards.

Two other sites, in Essex and Yorkshire, are still developing their proposals.

The projects are expected to include community heat sources and be highly energy efficient, and meet high standards for recycling and water use. The new buildings also will be equipped with smart meters and renewable-energy features such as solar panels and small-scale wind turbines.

Along with the eco-town plans, Housing Minister John Healy also announced that, beginning in 2016, all new homes built in Britain will have to meet a zero-carbon-emissions standard.


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