The IDEMA team investigated the design of smart and local energy networks, maximising the use of active energy components and reducing energy requirements by 1,300 kWh/yr. An assessment by energy researchers, DG Cities, found this was possible for a community of ten or more homes.
The IDEMA Panel House started with the innovative design of an affordable, net zero, thermal efficient home that goes beyond even PassiveHaus and Level 6 UK Code for Sustainable homes standards without compromising internal living space.
Incorporating low carbon materials and a new class of insulation for autonomous manufacture of the panels has led to an estimated 15% improvement in construction productivity and a 30% reduction in costs.
Through the use of sustainable timber frames, sheathing and insulation products the embodied carbon in each building is reduced. In addition, the lighter weight of construction will reduce the volume of foundations required. Mills Power Architecture's prototype Forest Room does not use concrete at all within the construction, preferring to use screw pile foundations instead.
Panels are made predominantly from sustainably sourced timber based construction materials - timber is recognised as a sustainable and renewable material that stores carbon throughout its usable lifespan and sequesters carbon long-term if disposed of or recycled without combustion.
Taking things a step further, integrating renewable energy generation and storage technologies means the IDEMA Panel House can meet its own energy requirements and generate enough surplus energy to charge a small electric car. This will reduce energy requirements by 1,300 kWh/yr.
Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) are recommended to manufacture the IDEMA Panel House autonomously in a factory setting, using sustainable materials, for rapid assembly onsite, estimating that the building shell can be fully assembled within 10 days. The speed of assembly also mitigates the risk of weather delays.
The form and layout of the IDEMA Panel House is geared to urban conditions where affordable housing is most urgently needed: constrained and dense developments, presumption of shared party walls (and floors) between dwellings, a relatively deep house plan with long windowless sides, short fenestrated elevations front and back, and industrially produced external cladding systems.
However, as a versatile system, the vast number of potential permutations and re-configurations means it can go beyond urban environments and be successfully applied to stand alone dwellings in rural settings. The system can also be extended and modified throughout its life, allowing the home to extend as lifestyle needs change.