Page last updated at 12:01 GMT, Thursday, 19 November 2009

No central heating in new homes

Artist's impression of new housing development
An artist's impression of the new Madrid Street development in east Belfast where central heating systems will be "redundant"

Dozens of new homes will be so energy efficient that they are to be built without central heating systems, those behind a new venture have announced.

More than 50 social housing properties will be constructed over the next three years in the scheme which is led by Habitat for Humanity Northern Ireland.

They said each house will be 75% more energy efficient than average as it will be built using advanced technology from local firm Tyrone Timberframes.

The first phase begins in east Belfast.

'Future proof'

The £5m project was said to mark the first time across the UK and Ireland that houses in the social housing sector have been built without the requirement of a central heating system.

We have created a technology which produces significant energy savings and slashes running costs for the homeowner
David Maxwell, Tyrone Timberframes

The partnership claimed that when completed, the housing development would "future proof" new homes against adverse energy costs and address the impact of fuel poverty.

Construction is set to begin shortly at Madrid Street and the first completed houses will cost in the region of £100,000.

People who want to live in the properties will have to get their hands dirty though.

Habitat for Humanity is a Christian organisation which helps families to build their own homes, with the help of volunteers.

The entire project will require 84,000 hours of volunteer time.

Heat recovery

The properties will be made air-tight and will be fitted with triple-glazed windows.

They will also contain a "whole house ventilation" system which will recover at least 80% of the heat from stale air in the home and redistribute it into a supply of fresh filtered air.

David Maxwell and Peter Farquharson
David Maxwell and Peter Farquharson launched the 5m housing investment

The executive director of Habitat for Humanity in Northern Ireland, Peter Farquharson, said the ambitious plan would "fundamentally change how people view new homes" and have a "far-reaching impact for the community and the sector".

Tyrone Timberframes has produced energy efficient timber frame houses for the the self build market over the past number of years but this is the first time their products have been used in the construction of social housing.

The company's managing director, David Maxwell, said the firm was excited about the "enormous potential" of the scheme.

"We envisaged some time ago that the house of the future will be environmentally friendly and highly energy efficient," he added.

"As a result of investing in research and development we have created a technology which produces significant energy savings and slashes running costs for the homeowner."



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