June 25, 2008

Excellentrating for Eco-Homes

New affordable houses in Hartcliffe are the first in Bristol to achieve an "excellent" rating for eco-homes.

The seven two-bedroom homes in Hareclive Road have been developed by Bristol-based Redland Housing Association and the first occupiers have already started to move in.

To achieve a rating of excellent, a development has to be designed to be both environmentally friendly in use and during construction.

Areas taken into account include increased insulation, high- efficiency boilers with low emissions, low-energy lighting and flow restrictors to cut water consumption.

Materials have to be obtained from certified, sustainable sources and as much site waste as possible has to be recycled. Water butts for rainwater recycling, garden plants to help the environment and bird boxes are also considered.

The properties are energy efficient and environmentally friendly and have been sold through the New Build HomeBuy scheme, which allows people to buy a share of the property and rent the remainder, giving them the chance to get on to the housing ladder.

Bristol City Council contributed pounds400,000 towards the overall cost of the scheme and priority was given to applicants with a local connection to Bristol and who were registered on the council's housing waiting list.

Louise Swain, Redland's managing director, said: "We will be watching closely to see what advantages and savings the residents achieve as a result of the 'excellent' eco-homes rating."

Council leader Helen Holland said: "This development is a great example of what can be achieved with the right combination of investment, imagination and partnership. It's fantastic to see these energy-efficient, environmentally friendly homes being built in a community where there is a real demand for affordable home ownership and I am particularly pleased to know that the majority of buyers are from the Hartcliffe and Withywood area."

Hartcliffe's new timber-framed properties were built by DB Russell (Construction) of Clevedon and the eco homes accreditation given by the Building Research Establishment.

It rates the sustainability of a development, including its energy efficiency, recycling possibilities and how close it is to local amenities and public transport.

Under the New Build HomeBuy scheme, people can buy a share in the property - usually 50 per cent - and pay a subsidised rent on the remaining share. Householders can buy more of the property at a later date if they wish until the house belongs to them outright.

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