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Britain's most energy efficient smart homes and , UKs newest & tallest sky scraper building

The house that costs £15 per year to run

An architect has designed a house which costs just £15 ($23) per year to heat, light and power.

Colin Usher has built his own four-bedroom home in Merseyside.Mr Usher, who has been an architect for 35 years and is a director at Liverpool-based John McCall Architects, recently won an award for the house which was the winner in the Domestic New Build Category at the 2015 Buildings and Energy Efficiency Awards.


Here are the key features that ensure he never has to pay more than £15 a year to run it.
  • It's built of concrete to retain heat. The house only loses one degree of heat per day when the heating is off 
  • There's an air-to-water heat pump for hot water
  • Hot water from air-to-water pump heats floor
  • No heating to upper floor
  • Exceptional insulation throughout
  • Insulation wraps round in front of each of the window and door framesTriple glazing
  • Ventilation system sucks warm moist air out of bathrooms, utility room and kitchen – blows fresh air into all the living spaces
  • A heat exchanger warms incoming air
  • The ground floor rooms are tall so warm air rises to warm floors above
  • South facing solar panels generate 3,338kW hours/year 
  • This electricity is fed back to the house to run appliances, the heating and hot water production 

Capital Cost
The project was constructed for the target cost of £240,000 which equates to £1,340 per m2. This is not dissimilar to the more affordable bespoke private houses which the practice has been involved with in recent years. It shows that with careful cooperation between the client, architect and building contractor, extremely good value for money can be achieved.Construction costs are currently rising slightly, so this may not be remain at this level for long

Market Valuation

A recent valuation of the house shows that it is worth what it cost to buy the land, demolish the previous property and build the new house. However if one takes into account the £2,500 per year saving on energy costs and the fact that there will be no significant repairs and maintenance required over the next 15-20 years, this can be seen as a very sound investment, along with being a comfortable and desirable place to live.

Solcer, a carbon positive house

Experts from the Welsh School of Architecture have designed and built the UK's first purpose-built, low-cost energy smart house, capable of exporting more energy to the national electricity grid than it uses.

The house, designed by Professor Phil Jones and his team based at the Welsh School of Architecture, has been built as a prototype to meet tough new targets for zero carbon housing set by UK Government.

Designed and constructed as part of the Wales Low Carbon Research Institute's (LCRI) SOLCER project, and supported by SPECIFIC at Swansea University, its unique design combines for the first time reduced energy demand, renewable energy supply and energy storage to create an energy positive house.

Solcer, a carbon positive house - Innovation in Sustainability Award 2015

The design of the SOLCER House is based on the 'Buildings as Power Stations' concept developed by the SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, and is unique in that it uses a number of technologies and design approaches developed by the LCRI's Low Carbon Buildings Research Programme.

Kevin Bygate, Chief Executive of SPECIFIC, said: "Buildings that can generate, store and release their own renewable energy could be a game-changer. The SOLCER House is intentionally built with the best off-the-shelf, affordable technologies, so it proves what's possible even now – and there's plenty more technology in the pipeline."

In order to drastically reduce the energy demand, the house was built with high levels of thermal insulation reducing air leakage and uses an innovative energy efficient design which includes low carbon cement, structural insulated panels (SIPS), external insulated render, transpired solar collectors and low emissivity double glazed aluminium clad timber frame windows and doors.

The south facing roof comprises of glazed solar photovoltaic panels, fully integrated into the design of the building, allowing the roof space below to be naturally lit. This has been designed to reduce the cost of bolting on solar panels to a standard roof.

The house's energy systems combine solar generation and battery storage to power both its combined heating, ventilation, hot water system and its electrical power systems which includes appliances, LED lighting and heat pump. The TSC solar air system preheats the ventilation air which is topped up from a thermal water store.

Professor Jones adds: "Now the house has been built our key task is to ensure that all of the measures that we have put in place are monitored to ensure the most energy efficient use.

"We will use this information to inform future projects with the aim of ensuring that Wales remains at the heart of the development of a zero carbon housing future.

"The building demonstrates our leading edge low carbon supply, storage and demand technologies at a domestic scale which we hope will be replicated in other areas of Wales and the UK in the future."

The SOLCER House took a total of 16 weeks to construct and was completed in February, 2015.

The house is situated on the site of Cenin Renewables Ltd in Pyle, near Bridgend.

The project has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Wales European Funding Office.

Plans for the City of London's tallest tower, One Undershaft, have been unveiled.

A CGI image of the towerImage copyrightDBOX
Image captionThe tower could be the "second highest in Europe", architects said

Just a fraction shorter than the Shard, the 73-storey tower could be the second highest column in the capital.

At 309.6m, the skyscraper will be 80m taller than the nearby Cheesegrater, which stands at 224m, and will dwarf the 180m-high Gherkin.
It will have a public square at its base, a free public viewing gallery and a sky-high restaurant, architects said.

A CGI image of the base of the towerImage copyrightDBOX
Image captionThe skyscraper will have a large public square at its base

"It will be the jewel in the crown of the City of London and something we hope Londoners will be very proud of."

Eric Parry, the architect
The 90,000 square metre structure, which will replace the Aviva Building, will be able to accommodate 10,000 people and will have 1,500 bicycle spaces as well as new shower and changing facilities.
To avoid repeating the Walkie Talkie's car-melting disaster - where a London skyscraper was blamed for reflecting light and melting parts of a Jaguar car - architects said "special fins included in the design will reduce solar glare".

A CGI image of the London skylineImage copyrightDBOX
Image captionThe new building will rise above the Cheesegrater, the Gherkin and the Walkie Talkie

A planning application will be submitted to the City of London in the early in 2016

The 1 Undershaft proposals have been commissioned by Singapore-based Aroland Holdings, whose major shareholders (including Khoon Hong and Sitorus) are currently building the tallest tower in Indonesia, along with high-rises in Singapore, Beijing and Chengdu.

“It’s interesting being at this point in the chess game,” says Parry. “At the higher level of buildings, this is really the endgame. I don’t think there’s more coming on this scale.”

Ironically, a building of almost the same height, and about twice its width, is arriving next door: 22 Bishopsgate, now under construction on the site of the ill-fated Pinnacle, will stand as a monumental tombstone, congealing the City cluster together into a single solid lump.

Further Reading 

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