Building sustainable, low carbon, affordable homes using local materials.
Ty Unnos - Welsh eco house
The Welsh Assembly Government is one of only a handful of administrations in the world to make sustainable development a statutory obligation. One of its key priorities is to find new ways of building sustainable, low carbon, affordable homes.
The idea of creating houses from home-grown timber started from a small feasibility study carried out by Coed Cymru, Wales’s woodland management charity. It looked into the possibility of producing low-carbon housing from Wales’s own forests. It had not been done before and one of the challenges faced by the consortium was to find ways of engineering the material for strength and stability, to meet the quality of other imported construction materials.
The result is a house, Ty Unnos, designed to meet Level 5 of the Code for Sustainable Homes (the system for measuring the sustainability and carbon reduction in the construction of sustainable homes). In just two years of development from initial feasibility to market, the current Ty Unnos build system has the potential to meet the UK’s future housing needs as well as the environmental regulations needed to create sustainable communities.
Built at the top of the South Wales Valleys, the Ty Unnos house is based on a modern re-interpretation of the traditional Welsh longhouse. It is constructed from Welsh timber, using local suppliers and labour, and is carbon negative through the carbon bound into the timber materials. It is highly insulated, easy to manufacture, and transport distances for the locally grown crops are short.
The technology is based on converting locally grown Sitka spruce (a high volume low value crop) into a high value whole house system. This is done by incorporating a laminated structural box section timber frame and infill panels which can be easily assembled on site. The simple and rapid assembly process ensures high levels of insulation, reduced thermal bridging and heat loss through the building fabric, and comfortable internal conditions. Initial funding from the Technology Strategy Board was given to develop, test and certify the box sections to meet British building standards.
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