Hill has launched a new 208 eco home development in Cambridge featuring a number of technologies to help residents enjoy a ‘sustainable’ lifestyle. PHPD spoke with the housebuilder to discover more.
Sustainability is an issue in which many developers are taking a close interest. Customer demand for it is growing and housebuilders are increasingly exploring the benefits it can bring, not only to residents and communities, but also to their own business.
Situated in Great Kneighton on the southern fringe of Cambridge, Virido (which means ‘to become green’ in Latin) is the latest development by award-winning housebuilder Hill. The development comprises 208 ‘eco homes’, 104 of which are for private sale with the other half for Cambridge City Council.
Virido has been designed to offer sustainable, community living. The development features a collection of one, two and three bedroom apartments and duplexes and three and four bedroom townhouses.
The wider Great Kneighton neighbourhood will feature a new community and health centre, two new schools, shops, cafes and restaurants, and over 2,000 new homes located alongside a 120 acre country park.
The development is a modular design, explained Rob Hall, Deputy Managing Director at Hill. He continued, “It is made up from a ‘kit’ of different home designs. The homes have been assembled to form eight ‘quads’, each containing about 23 homes, with many of the townhouses forming the cornerstones.”
The Quads take inspiration from the University of Cambridge’s historic colleges. They have been designed with brick and black timber exteriors, but each has its own individual palette of materials, colours and finishes. To achieve this Thermowood Cladding has been used. This special timber cladding is baked at a high temperature in order to stabilise it, increasing the life span and preserving its appearance.
Virido’s Quads are built around a large central square and are connected by tree-lined streets, helping to promote an outdoor lifestyle and a strong sense of community.
Virido’s sustainable features include super-insulated walls and tripled-glazed windows, which will help to eliminate cold draughts and reduce heat loss. The windows incorporate special coatings that reflect heat back into the building. The housebuilder explained that this means you lose about 80% less heat than single glazing and 50% less than typical double glazing. As a result you can sit or sleep very close to the window without feeling cold as well as it offering excellent sound proofing.
Hill have also used Structurally Insulated Panels (SIP) which, they tell us, offer approximately four times more insulation than an average new build home. The walls provide approximately 20% less heat loss than a typical building without compromising on room sizes.
Other technologies used include MVHR ventilation to ensure a constant flow of clean, fresh filtered air and rainwater harvesting. Rainwater is gathered and stored in an underground tank below each Quad, this is then filtered and used as a renewable source of clean water for flushing toilets. The development also uses Photovoltaic (PV) panels which convert sunlight into electricity and green roofs, to increase insulation and to attract wildlife
The company’s ‘Be Zero’ Concept House experiment – which came to a conclusion in January 2016 – saw a real family, the Rayner’s, live in a prototype Virido home for a year, bill and rent free, to test-drive various sustainability features.
Rob Hall, Deputy Managing Director at Hill, commented: “Having the Rayners ‘test-drive’ an eco-property has been vital to the design of our Virido development. We are pushing the boundaries of sustainability in Cambridge to ensure that our homes are both environmentally friendly and easy to maintain for busy and active families.”
At Virido Hill has made a commitment to sustainability and incorporated a number of sustainable features into the development. Rob Hall concluded: “Hill will be delivering over 1,000 new homes in the Cambridge area over the next couple of years, including at our North West Cambridge and Ninewells developments as well as Great Kneighton. The city is undergoing an ambitious period of transformation, and so it is vital that we create homes that are fit for the future and will protect their community’s health and wellbeing for the long-term.”