Groundbreaking homes that would allow tenants to avoid energy bills are being pioneered in Northumberland by leading architects Space Group.
The Newcastle-based architecture and technology business worked with Arch Homes to design and build four homes in Blyth which will provide its residents with sustainable homes that cost nothing extra to heat and power.
Complying with zero carbon standards, the Swedish-style houses – called Spacehus houses – have state-of-the-art features including Nest, the “thinking thermostat” that knows when no-one is home and sends updates on energy use via smart phone and tablet.
Space Group’s work also ensures the two and three-bed homes’ wireless lighting systems can be connected through Wi-Fi to music playlists, Netflix or Twitter.
The four homes are a pilot project commissioned by Arch, the Northumberland Development Company, following research which showed 77,000 North East families have experienced energy debt.
The development, named Valleydale Mews, was unveiled this week at Brierly Road in Blyth by Coun Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council, Arch Group managing director Peter McIntyre and Space Group chief executive Rob Charlton, who now wants the model to be rolled out across the UK.
Mr Charlton said: “The Spacehus home is intended to be a low waste, zero energy and zero bills building approach and we feel the launch of this first development is particularly timely due to recent reports on energy debt and fuel poverty.
“There’s been a lot of talk around energy companies failing to pass on lower costs to their customers, and this provides an affordable alternative for the region’s families and young working professionals.
“The aim is to take this model and apply it nationally which is a really exciting prospect for us.”
The homes will now be let to tenants on the basis of no additional energy bills, with the houses’ minimal heat and power demands offset by renewable energy technologies and included within residents’ monthly rent.
Sustainable, high quality materials were used for the development and Building Information Modelling (BIM) was integrated throughout the process from design to build.
The dwellings which promote open-plan living and wi-fi connection as standard alongside other utilities within the monthly tenancy fee, are two and three bed.
Arch, The Northumberland Development Company which is wholly-owned by Northumberland County Council, commissioned Space Group on the energy-saving venture.
Coun Davey said: “I am extremely impressed by the quality of these new homes, and particularly by the energy saving features.
“We are all looking for ways to manage our energy and waste more smartly, and to reduce bills, so it is great to be able to offer the opportunity for Northumberland residents to live in a zero carbon home.”