Midlands university students create C60 house with super insultation and efficient ventilation

Students at the University of Nottingham have responded to government calls for increased sustainable design and construction by designing and building their own eco-home.

The design of the C60 house focuses on creating a super efficient envelope with high levels of insulation and efficient ventilation. It is part of the university’s Creative Energy Homes initiative, which will see a total six sustainable homes built on the campus in the near future. These will include a concrete based solution for under £60,000 with lead partner Roger Bullivant; BASF’s £70,000 affordable zero carbon home; a project sponsored by Eon to recreate a 1930s home and update it gradually to 2016 zero carbon levels; and, a Tarmac led project to build two semi detached homes to different levels of the Code for Sustainable Homes.

All of the houses will be inhabited for long periods and monitored thoroughly to trial every aspect of sustainable living – from the ease of use of high tech controls to the effectiveness of wind turbines and ground source heat pumps.

Dr Mark Gillott, Co-Director of the Institute of Sustainable Energy Technology in the School of the Built Environment at University of Nottingham, says: “We are building a range of houses that will utilise and investigate modern methods of construction that complement traditional brick and block. The initiative will be a realistic interaction with new sustainable technologies with rigorous testing and analysis throughout the construction and beyond.”

The Structure

The main structure and most of the external fabric of the C60 are supplied by lead partner Stoneguard. Its lightweight galvanised steel framed panels will be clad in polystyrene insulation and factory-finished rendered brick effect cladding to the exterior; while Rockwool insulation and gel impregnated plasterboard create a super insulated internal wall finish some ten times more efficient than conventional techniques.

University of Nottingham's new eco home
University of Nottingham's new eco home

This gel impregnated plasterboard is the latest in phase change material developments. Gel particles absorb heat when the internal temperature rises and release back into the home as temperatures drop, effectively providing the thermal mass of a concrete wall in 19 mm of plasterboard.

The house is also water efficient: automated taps and low flush toilets will reduce the average water used each day per occupant from 130 litres to below 80 litres. Rain and waste water management is in place; a wind turbine and solar power will supply electricity and heating, respectively; there is even a sustainable alternative to cement – blast furnace slag – used for the reinforced concrete basement construction.

The house will be completed by the end of the year and tours will be available soon afterwards.