A Passivhaus Homes project

The UK must tear down barriers to sustainable housebuilding and help citizens make greener energy choices in their homes, climate experts have said.

Organisations working in these areas dominate the longlists for Ashden’s annual sustainable buildings and energy innovation awards, announced this week. Experts from the climate and energy NGO have searched the length of the UK for work with the potential to radically reduce carbon emissions. A final winner in each of the two categories – which are supported by Garfield Weston Foundation and Impax, respectively – will be announced in June. 

Ashden CEO Harriet Lamb said their research showed innovators are responding to public interest in tackling the climate emergency – but added it was vital their efforts were backed up by supportive tax systems and government policies.

She said: “Across the UK, organisations are driving better use of passive design and sustainable materials such as timber, and techniques that allow whole house frames to be created quickly and cheaply. Others are leading the development of mortgages for sustainable homes.

“Much of this work can encourage a new, localised model for cost-effective green housebuilding – supporting local economies, slashing the industry’s carbon footprint and creating greater resilience in the years ahead.

“We’ve also seen great work empowering people to lower energy use in their homes – whether they are homeowners or social housing tenants. This reflects huge appetite for energy saving and greener living right across society.       

“If the government is serious about hitting its net-zero target, it must capitalise on this demand for change, supporting it with every tax and policy lever available. In the run up to the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, it is vital the UK commits to world-leading action. 

“The chancellor can send a clear message with pro-green building and clean energy measures in next month’s budget.”  

The longlists 

Ashden Award for Sustainable Built Environments (UK), supported by the Garfield Weston Foundation

Ecology Building Society

West Yorkshire-based building society supporting and promoting ecological building practices and sustainable communities.

Accsys

Accsys, based in London, manufacture acetylated wood – a long-lasting, sustainable building material that can compete with metal, plastic and concrete.

Ty Pren

West Wales co-operative carrying out timber frame modular housebuilding, using roundwood to increase strength and cut carbon emissions.

Passivhaus Homes

Devon company, helping builders create homes that meet the ultra-efficient Passivhaus design standard.

Ashden Award for Energy Innovation (UK), supported by Impax

Guru Systems

Guru’s software finds energy inefficiencies in social housing, cutting waste by 60% or more. Tenants get warmer, more efficient homes as a result. Based in London.

South Yorkshire Housing Association/Open Systems Lab

The open-source Wikihouse  project uses ‘micro-factories’ – simple workshops that can be created close to the final building site – to manufacture wooden house frames.

Octopus Energy

Energy supplier innovating with time-of-use and EV-charging tariffs, whose products include low-cost 100% renewable electricity.

Caplin Solar Systems

Caplin’s long-term heat storage technology boosts the power of renewables as a year-round energy source. Based in Leicester.