Low Energy House

Low Energy House - Zero Carbon House - Eco Friendly Building

The Kingspan Lighthouse is an experimental zero carbon house project at the BRE in Watford. It is a three storey timber frame dwelling that has been constructed to meet Level 6; the highest level of the Code for Sustainable Homes

Kingspan Lighthouse Rear Elevation - Image Provided by Kingspan Off-Site LimitedZero Carbon House Concept

The zero carbon house seeks to address the challenges of future climate change and summer overheating. It sets out to create a home with attractive, flexible, internal spaces which are designed for modern living but where advanced construction methods do not compromise the occupants’ enjoyment of the dwelling.

Zero Carbon House and Sustainability

The Lighthouse has been designed to provide a lifestyle that is inherently ‘light’ on the world’s resources; balancing the practical requirements of occupants while responding to the anticipated changes in the UK climate. Although not mandatory to the Code for Sustainable Homes, every building material and component used has been specified for its sustainability.  All the materials and components used in the construction have been chosen to minimise embodied energy and to maximise recycled content and reuse.

Zero Carbon House Design

The structure of the zero carbon house is a simple barn-like form, derived from a 40 degree roof accommodating a solar pv panel. The sweeping roof envelops the central top-lit double height living space which has the sleeping accommodation at ground level. The living space uses a timber portal structure so that, at the construction stage, floors can be slotted between the frames or left as openings, depending on the requirements of the design brief.

Zero Carbon House Reducing Electricity Consumption

An electrically driven whole-house ventilation system, with a very efficient heat recovery system, provides background ventilation in the home. Efficient electrical appliances with a reduction in stand-by power are used, along with low energy lighting technology provided by LED lights.

Zero Carbon House and Airtightness

Kingspan Lighthouse Timber Cladding - Image Provided by Kingspan Off-Site LimitedEnclosed lobby areas have been provided to the front and back of the house to maintain a high level of airtightness.  The building envelope specification delivers high levels of thermal insulation and airtightness so that the home will only require to be heated for a couple of months in mid-winter.

Zero Carbon House and Passive Ventilation

Located on the roof, above the central void over the staircase, a windcatcher provides passive cooling and ventilation.  When open, this catches the cold air forcing it down to the heart of the living space and the ground floor sleeping accommodation, dispersing the hot air and allowing it to escape. The windcatcher also brings daylight deep into the plan of the house and provides the ground floor sleeping accommodation with secure night time ventilation.

Zero Carbon House and Selective Thermal Mass

‘Phase change materials’ in the ceilings absorb the room heat by changing from solids to liquid within the microscopic capsules embedded in the board. This process is reversed when the room is cooled with the night air, working with the passive system of the windcatcher.

Zero Carbon House - Solar Heat Gain and Shading

Kingspan Lighthouse Balcony - Image Provided by Kingspan Off-Site LimitedCode Level 6 demands high U-values for the building fabric (window and walls) and, as a result, the ratio of glazing to wall is 18 per cent as opposed to 25 – 30 per cent in traditional houses. Consequently, it was decided to locate the living space on the first floor, allowing maximum daylight from the top-lit, double height, living space.

The passive house design balances the need to maximise sunlight with the expectations of occupants who are already accustomed to benefit of high light levels.

Shading to the west elevation is provided by retractable shutters, restricting direct sunlight to minimise heat gain in the summer. These can be folded away when not required to shade the space from the evening sun.  Future temperatures in the UK may reach those similar to southern Europe, however, the angle of the sun will remain low.

Zero Carbon House - Building Services

Smart metering
Low energy lighting
A++ white goods
Rainwater recycling
Low water flow fittings
Secure purge ventilation
Low volume, water efficient sanitary ware, appliances and grey water recycling

Zero Carbon House - Renewable Energy

Building integrated, solar photovoltaic panels
Solar thermal collector feeding hot water to a heat store
Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MHRV)
Biomass wood pellet boiler

Building services are integrated with Smart Metering and monitoring that record energy consumption and enable the occupants to identify wastage and to help sustain an environmentally aware lifestyle

About Eco Friendly Building - Zero Carbon Building