Elmsbrook residents save £400 a year in energy bills as the NW Bicester scheme is confirmed as the UK’s first large-scale true zero-carbon development
Elmsbrook, the initial exemplar phase of NW Bicester developed by A2Dominion, has had its status as the UK’s first large-scale true zero carbon1 development confirmed by international sustainability charity, Bioregional.
With savings of almost £400 per year2 compared to the average Bicester household, Elmsbrook residents are benefitting from super insulated fabric, more efficient appliances and renewable-energy generation.
The combined impact of the eco-features incorporated into the homes, primary school and eco-business centre have ensured that the site as a whole is achieving true zero carbon. Elmsbrook is saving 300 tonnes of CO2 per year when compared with a new build development of a similar size.
According to Bioregional’s monitoring results Elmsbrook residents used 57% less heating and hot water than their Bicester neighbours and 28% less electricity than the Bicester average, saving 1,189 KWh of electricity during the year.
Bioregional co-founder and CEO Sue Riddlestone OBE said: “We are really proud to have worked with A2Dominion on this monitoring work, and to have worked in partnership with them for many years to help ensure that Elmsbrook achieves its zero-carbon ambitions while also being a great place to live.
“Clearly there’s scope for further work to ensure that residents make the most of all the other opportunities to minimise their impact on the planet. But to succeed in preventing catastrophic climate change we need to see many more Elmsbrooks emerging across the country – and fast.”
A2Dominion’s Head of Special Projects, Steve Hornblow said: “The successful findings of this report, coupled with the anecdotal feedback we are hearing from residents, is a huge milestone for the scheme. As a test bed, exemplar scheme, we are very proud of the achievements at Elmsbrook.”
Monitoring proves eco-design a success
To inform the annual monitoring of Elmsbrook’s sustainability performance, Bioregional has been capturing anonymised data through the meters within the homes at Elmsbrook, the public areas and resident surveys. This includes 86 homes from Phase One with 12 months of full data, and 32 homes from Phase Two with up to six months of data.
The results of Bioregional’s sustainability monitoring report highlights the success A2Dominion has had in meeting the standards it set out during the design phase. Not only is the carbon footprint neutral, but residents are reaping the benefits of the innovative features across Elmsbrook. While 40% of residents purchased as a result of the eco town concept, almost half (47%) have said the most liked design features are eco related, including PV, better insulation, triple glazing and rainwater harvesting. Some 57% said the eco features were what they most liked about the development.
Lifestyle and community emphasis delivers real value
In addition to the specific eco credentials of the scheme, the lifestyle and community emphasis is delivering real value. Elmsbrook aims to make it easy for people to live happy, healthy and sustainable lives.
The ample green spaces at Elmsbrook have also proved hugely popular, with half of residents making daily or weekly use of the green spaces and on average exercise 4.5 days per week. Some 81% of residents surveyed said they feel healthy or very healthy compared to the national average of 57.8%.
Sustainable travel innovations include an electric car club, free Brompton bicycle rental, and free installation of electric vehicle charging points to residents who go electric within the first two years. While 48 residents have signed up to the electric car club so far, only 20% of residents are using the low-emission bus service each month. The research showed that more efforts are needed to develop further sustainable travel options and encourage people to adopt these low-carbon forms of transport.
Elmsbrook residents surveyed said they say hello to more than 15 neighbours and a quarter are engaged in community governance activities like clubs and groups onsite. In the UK as a whole, a quarter of people don’t say hello to their neighbours.
1 True zero carbon covers all household energy use, regulated and unregulated
2 This saving arises when maintenance, gas safety checks and eventual boiler replacement are factored in – included in standing chargers.