The Kingswinford Zero Carbon Vicarage is 4 bedroom detached house that has been developed by the Diocese of Worcester as part of their commitment to reduce their carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. This project will contribute to the delivery of the objective contained in their Environment Strategy to design buildings to use less energy and have a minimal carbon impact through the application of renewable energy technology and rainwater conservation.
What was involved?
This project involved the design and construction of a house that relies on natural resources to provide heat and light. The Diocese of Worcester held informed discussions with planning officers, environmental consultants and contractors to consider energy saving and other environmental issues at all stages of the design and construction process.
The house has been designed to use the Passivhaus criteria; a simple approach to house designs to reduce the requirement for space heating that creates excellent levels of indoor comfort. This design gives priority to the use of high performing insulation materials, orientating a house so it can maximise the benefits of facing south and the provision of whole house ventilation systems to provide good indoor air quality.
The house is constructed using concrete blocks made from recycled aggregate and materials which used low levels of carbon during their manufacture.
Heat recovery system
A heat recovery system collects heat generated in the kitchen and bathroom and channels it through a series of pipes to redistribute the heat to other areas of the house. This reduces the energy consumption and bills.
Solar photovoltaic panels
Solar photovoltaic panels are a proven technology that converts the sun’s rays into electricity that is used to power appliances in the house. A 6.8kW system located on the south facing roof is expected to generate more electricity than will be required by the house in a year and the excess will be sold to the national grid. Through registration with a national scheme to encourage the generation of electricity from renewable sources, payments will be received for every unit of electricity generated.
Water use is very efficient; the rainwater recycling system that collects and stores the water and uses it to service the toilets; all of which reduces the demand from the mains supply and also the charges from the water company.
The main outcome is a house designed to the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 6 that is the highest environmental rating currently recognised and a building to showcase Worcester Diocese’s commitment to energy saving. The Diocese is also committed to sharing their experiences with others though invitation-only open days for members of the building profession.
The design was recognised as a shining example of energy saving practice in the Dudley Energy Heroes Awards 2011. This project was completed in November 2011.