From zero to hero

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Morris Homes Ltd are currently constructing the UK’s largest zero carbon development. Scheme Monitor Derek Wakefield noted that this is a unique project and that it serves as an excellent opportunity to promote zero carbon construction.

Gary Davies, Site Manager for Morris Homes (Midlands) Ltd, tells Industry Image about this unique project and some of the energy reduction initiatives they have incorporated into the development.

1. Please can you describe the project you are working on?

Vista, in Peterborough’s South Bank area, is the UK’s largest zero carbon development. Upon completion, the landmark site will be home to 295 energy efficient two, three and four-bedroom properties that offer buyers in Peterborough an affordable, sustainable home. The renewable resources at the site will provide homeowners with long-term savings on their household bills and will help to reduce their carbon footprint.

2. How have you incorporated the Scheme into your site?

The size and nature of the construction at Vista makes our involvement with the Scheme particularly important, and we are environmentally conscious.

Vista is located next door to Peterborough Football Club, and from the offset we have worked hard to establish a good relationship with our neighbours. During construction we have been using a section of their car park, and conversely when there is a game on at the weekends, we open up an area of our ground for the Club’s staff to use for parking. We are also working with the Club to upgrade their parking facilities.

3. Since the beginning of the project, what challenges have you faced?

The main challenge that we were set was to rejuvenate this area of the South Bank and create the UK’s largest zero carbon development. Homes at Vista are designed to reduce carbon emissions and provide sustainable housing for buyers, and we are committed to constructing affordable homes that are fitted with renewable resources.

In the initial stages of the build we had to ensure that the top soil and hedges at the development were protected, and we put into place a thorough ground remediation programme to clear the site before foundations were laid.

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4. How have you been able to overcome these?

At Morris we are proud of our award-winning, quality homes that we build to consistently high standards. The properties at Vista are unlike anything we have constructed before, and as part of the process, we are fitting the cavity walls of the properties at Vista with robust Xtratherm 150mm insulation.

We are installing some of the latest energy efficient combination boilers, which are linked to solar panels that are expected to generate nearly 29 per cent of the total energy requirement per annum.

Also, we are currently introducing balancing ponds to Vista, stocked by local wildlife experts, and incorporating living walls throughout the site.

5. Could you detail a few examples of good practice you have put in place on site?

There is a SMART waste system in place at Vista, which targets recycling over 85 per cent of materials used at the site. At a rate of 95 per cent, we are consistently hitting our target. Any timber or plastic that can be re-used across the development is, and the remainder is sent for recycling. Once we have collated a sizeable amount of rubble following building procedures we crush it to use again. Lowering our waste output reduces the amount of traffic to and from the site, and in turn lowers our carbon footprint.

We have a designated smoking area in place, and have actively encouraged workers to travel to the site in minibuses. There can be up to 80 builders working at the development at one time, and travelling in this way reduces petrol costs and lowers carbon emissions.

We want local residents and businesses to be aware of what is happening at Vista and we are planning to produce a newsletter to distribute around the area to provide a comprehensive update of activity.