Deserved recognition for the first home by a mainstream housebuilder to meet level six of the Code for Sustainable Homes

Winner: Barratt – Green House, BRE Innovation Park

The judges were blown away by this entry from Barratt, which has won praise from the government and industry for pushing the boundaries of sustainable design without sending the price tag rocketing. The project, at the BRE’s Innovation Park near Watford, combines innovative microgeneration with the highest standards of energy efficiency and has been hailed as a new standard for others to match. The three-bedroom house, designed by architect Gaunt Francis, opened in May this year and is the first home by a mainstream housebuilder to meet the criteria for zero stamp duty. It meets level six of the Code for Sustainable Homes and, on average, will emit zero carbon over the course of a year. Technology is used throughout the house to minimise energy waste and create a comfortable living environment. Computer-controlled shutters limit the build-up of heat from sunlight and mechanical ventilation allows fresh air in without a cold blast. The roof is covered with solar panels and vegetation and the heat is kept in by triple-glazed windows and insulated timber frames. The building is designed to be built as part of a cluster of homes connected to a district heating system. The good news is that work on the project hasn’t stopped. The house will undergo rigorous testing over the next two years, providing valuable data on the materials and technologies used and allowing Barratt to apply its most successful aspects to future homes.

Runners up

3D Reid - Marks & Spencer, Galashiels

Marks & Spencer set 3D Reid the challenge of creating the first green store for its Simply Food brand as part of a five-year eco-plan. The 9,000ft2 project, which opened in October and has been rated BREEAM “excellent”, is powered by renewable energy and emits up to 95% less carbon dioxide than its counterparts. Importantly, it is considered a testbed for eco-features that could be rolled out in all 250 of its sister stores. Striking features include sun pipes and wind catchers on the roof to provide natural daylight, sensors in the windows to ensure lights only come on when needed and special fittings which save 4% of energy needed to operate each fridge. The construction process was also impressively green – 80% of waste was recycled or reused and suppliers made extensive use of BREEAM A-rated materials, such as FSC rated timber and recycled wall tiles.

Faber Maunsell – Morrisons store, Kidderminster

Retailers should take note. This project from Morrisons – the first to achieve an “excellent” rating under BREEAM Retail 2006 – is set to have a major impact on the chain’s eco-credentials. The design team focused on practical, cost-effective techniques and, as a result, more than 90% of its methods will be applied to new stores. Many will also be retro-fitted into existing stock. Renewable technologies include combined heat and power for part of the store’s on-site electricity and solar panels for domestic hot water. Lights with low heat output are being trialled for refrigerated displays in order to cut cooling requirements while harvested rainwater and electronic sensor taps will help save water. The development, which is being built on a brownfield site, will also include a carpet museum to reflect the town’s links with the carpet industry

Faber Maunsell – Pembrokeshire College

Faber Maunsell faced a challenge with this scheme. At an advanced stage of the design process, the target changed from a BREEAM rating of “very good” to a rating of “excellent”. Nevertheless, the project went on to become the first further education development to hit the highest grade at design and procurement stage and picked up a prize at the 2008 Welsh BREEAM awards. More than 30% of the building’s energy comes from renewable sources. Sustainable features include waterless urinals, a rainwater harvesting system and recycling areas spread throughout the building. A biomass boiler provides space heating, solar panels are used for domestic hot water and all ventilation is natural. Cycle facilities, lockers and showers were installed as part of a travel plan to deal with increased student numbers and vegetation has been planted in a former car park as part of a biodiversity action plan.

John Graham – Victoria Primary School

This rural school in Northern Ireland was the first UK building to get an A-rated energy performance certificate. The seven-classroom school and library, for the South Eastern Education and Library board, was delivered three months ahead of schedule and its whole supply chain, barring a single manufacturer, was local. The £1.8m scheme gets energy for heating and hot water from a biomass boiler, which uses wood pellets from the UK and Ireland, and a 5kW solar panel array. Each classroom is naturally ventilated and a 12,000-litre rainwater harvesting tank covers all toilet-flushing needs. Daylight sensors on artificial lights have been installed to cut energy wastage and a bus service set up to discourage car use among parents.

Osborne – Mid Street affordable housing development

Osborne deserves praise for building the country’s first affordable dwellings to meet level five of the Code for Sustainable Homes. The project in South Nutfield, Surrey, saw a contaminated brownfield site turned into two two-bed flats with strong eco credentials. On-site renewables were at the heart of the designer’s strategy here, with a wood pellet biomass boiler and 16 solar panels serving the flats’ energy needs. Energy efficiency has been boosted with triple-glazed windows, and a range of water-saving measures, such as restricted flow shower, small baths, and rainwater harvesting, are included. Tenants can access information on local bus services and weather through screens in their homes as part of a plan to cut car use and storage for bikes is also provided. Crucially, the flats’ water, electricity and fuel use is being monitored and analysed by the Energy Saving Trust. The data will be used to assess the efficiency of the technologies used.

Sarah Wigglesworth Architects – Cremorne Riverside Centre

Cumbrian sheep’s wool was used to build the walls in this rather unusual project, which challenged the architect to design a canoeing facility for children in a deprived area of London. The £550,000 scheme, part-funded by the lottery, aimed to replace temporary facilities with a building on the Thames that could hold classes of up to 30 children, including those with disabilities. Design challenges included protecting the buildings from flooding – the lightweight structures can be craned away during a flood – and guarding them from anti-social behaviour. Steel cladding was used to discourage vandalism and windows in the changing rooms were covered with protective panels. Environmental features include a ground source heat pump, time-controlled showers and, not least, the woollen walls which provide high levels of insulation.