Active Homes at Marleigh

Making Active Homes work in practice.

Last updated: 10th January 2022

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Summary

To meet a planning condition that the Marleigh development had to be an exemplar of sustainability, a Marshall and Hill joint venture is working with architects Pollard Thomas Edwards and the Active Building Centre to deliver Active Homes, houses that generate and store renewable electricity to meet their own needs and intelligently redistribute the surplus to other buildings and back into the grid, within the real-world margins required by a commercial development.

Innovation type: Energy
Organisation type: Housebuilder, Private sector client, Research centre

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Project pioneers

Marleigh is a joint venture between aerospace engineering company Marshall and Hill, an award-winning housebuilder in London and the South East. Marshall put forward former Cambridge Airport land for inclusion in the Greater Cambridgeshire local plan, which seeks to create new neighbourhoods while decreasing environmental impacts. A planning condition for the Marleigh site was that it had to be an exemplar of sustainable development.

The problem

Active Buildings generate and store renewable electricity to meet their own needs and intelligently redistribute the surplus to other buildings and back into the grid. While many of the individual technologies used by Active Buildings are already proven and widely available; integrating these technologies, working with different contractors, so that energy is used intelligently by buildings, electric vehicles and the grid, is a design challenge.

Vision

Phase 1a will see 5 homes, three 3-bedroom and two 4-bedroom houses, demonstrate the Active Building approach, with the intention of rolling it out more widely in future phases. Comparing data from the five trial homes to two standard houses at Marleigh, will allow the project team to see how these interventions have benefited residents and the wider environment before applying the learnings to another 16 homes as part of phase 1b of the development. Once complete, Marleigh will deliver up to 1,300 homes.

Key Insight

Pollard Thomas Edwards, an architecture practice specialising in the design of homes, neighbourhoods, public, and mixed-use buildings were appointed for the Marleigh development. Tom Dollard, a Partner at Pollard Thomas Edwards leading in sustainability and innovation, had been involved in the Active Homes Neath project and believed working with the Active Building Centre (ABC) could deliver the exemplar for sustainable development Marshall and Hill were looking for.

First step

Phase 1a has seen three 3-bedroom and two 4-bedroom houses being built based on an Active Building approach. The learnings from these initial 5 homes will then be applied to another 16 homes as part of phase 1b of the development.

Barrier

While work has been done to establish the core principles for designing Active Buildings, putting them into practice in the reality of a commercial development can be challenging. Finding the right technologies, working with different specifications, and understanding how to market and price Active Homes are all factors that need to be balanced to maintain margins.

Whole life innovation

Working with the Active Building Centre has helped to ensure that an integrated engineering and architecture approach has been taken to the building fabric and passive design, which ensures a comfortable interior environment can be created using very little energy. As a result, the pilot homes feature 500mm roof insulation, triple glazed Passivhaus certified doors and windows, mechanical ventilation and heat recovery, 300mm wall insulation to meet Passivhaus standards, Passivhaus entrance doors, 200mm ground floor insulation, no thermal bridging at building junctions, and airtightness to meet Passivhaus standard. Building orientation has also been considered with Solar PV panels being used on east-facing roofs.
Intelligently controlled and energy-efficient systems have been incorporated through electric meters, air source and heat pumps for hot water, and battery storage. The five houses, like all the homes at Marleigh, will also have access to Electric Vehicle charging pods. For the 4-bedroom houses, a battery and EV charging point has been installed in the garage.
In-home monitoring will collect 18 months of in-use data. This will include energy and environmental performance, which will be tracked alongside the experiences, reactions and behaviours of residents. Comparing data from the five trial homes to two standard houses at Marleigh will allow the project team to see how these interventions have benefited residents and the wider environment.

Collaborators

The landowner Marshall, the housebuilder Hill, architects Pollard Thomas Edwards, the Active Building Centre, technology providers UPOWA, and other contractors (such as electricians and plumbers) have all gone on a learning journey together. Many different skills crossover because of the integration required to deliver Active Homes, with real-world specifications requiring Active technologies to be deployed in new ways. For example, relocating PV inverters from being near rooftop PV panels to being close to EV chargers.

  • Active Building Centre
  • Hill
  • Marshall
  • Pollard Thomas Edwards
  • UPOWA

Lead support

The Active Building Centre (ABC), which is funded by the Transforming Construction Challenge, provided systems expertise to the project team and helped to upskill contractors.

Long Term Vision

While work has been done to establish the core principles for designing Active Buildings, putting them into practice in the reality of a commercial development can be challenging. Finding the right technologies, working with different specifications, and understanding how to market and price Active Homes are all factors that need to be balanced to maintain margins. By demonstrating what is possible, Maleigh can help to prove the real-world potential and demand for Active Homes.

Human Stories

The landowner Marshall, housebuilder Hill, Pollard Thomas Edwards architecture practice, Active Building Centre, technology providers such as HBS Group Southern, and contractors such as electricians and plumbers, have all gone on a learning journey together. Many different skills cross over because of the integration required to deliver Active Homes, with real-world specifications requiring Active technologies to be deployed in new ways. For example, relocating PV invertors from being near rooftop PV panels to being close to EV chargers.

Powerful Processes

Working with the Active Building Centre has helped to ensure that an integrated engineering and architecture approach has been taken to the building fabric and passive design, which ensures a comfortable interior environment can be created using very little energy. As a result, the pilot homes feature 500mm roof insulation, triple glazed Passivhaus certified doors and windows, mechanical ventilation and heat recovery, 300mm wall insulation to meet Passivhaus standards, Passivhaus entrance doors, 200mm ground floor insulation, no thermal bridging at building junctions, and airtightness to meet Passivhaus standard. Building orientation has also been considered with Solar PV panels being used on east-facing roofs.
Intelligently controlled and energy-efficient systems have been incorporated through electric meters, air source and heat pumps for hot water, and battery storage. In-home monitoring will collect 18 months of in-use data. This will include energy and environmental performance, which will be tracked alongside the experiences, reactions and behaviours of residents. Comparing data from the five trial homes to two standard houses at Marleigh will allow the project team to see how these interventions have benefited residents and the wider environment.

Fascinating Facts

Phase 1a has seen 5 homes, three 3-bedroom and two 4-bedroom houses, demonstrate the Active Building approach, with the intention of rolling it out more widely in future phases. In-home monitoring will collect 18 months of in-use data. This will include energy and environmental performance, which will be tracked alongside the experiences, reactions and behaviours of residents. Comparing data from the five trial homes to two standard houses at Marleigh, will allow the project team to see how these interventions have benefited residents and the wider environment before applying the learnings to another 16 homes as part of phase 1b of the development. The 5 pilot homes are delivering a 64% reduction in carbon emissions versus standard build. Once complete, Marleigh will deliver up to 1,300 homes.

Benefits

Active Energy
While the collection of 18 months of in-use data from the five trial homes is ongoing, the Active Building systems being tested go beyond the requirements of the Future Homes Standard which will be introduced by 2025.

Emissions
The 5 pilot homes are delivering a 64% reduction in carbon emissions versus standard build.