The Wales Eco Terrace Project in Penrhiwceiber, Rhondda Cynon Taf demonstrates how single-skin stone-walled Victorian houses can be transformed into spacious, energy efficient low carbon homes. It is estimated that their CO2 emissions and heating bills will be halved, an important achievement as terraced dwellings of this kind present a major barrier to improving the overall energy efficiency of the Welsh housing stock.
The homes which are owned by the Cynon Taf Community Housing Group have been refurbished under the Heads of the Valleys Regeneration Programme, with Rio appointed as architects on the project and BRE Wales as sustainability advisors.
BRE Wales advised the project team on energy and sustainability issues to ensure that the homes reached the ‘EcoHomes’ Excellent standard. ‘The interiors of the homes have been completely gutted and redesigned to make the maximum use of space and light,’ says BRE Wales Director, Nick Tune. ‘All aspects of design have been thoroughly reviewed including fabric, services, materials and occupant use, with the aim of minimising energy consumption.’
Insulation and triple glazing will reduce heat loss and improve energy efficiency, while roof mounted solar thermal collectors linked to ‘A’ rated condensing boilers keep energy bills low. Use of water butts, low capacity baths and water flow regulators will reduce water demand.
The open and flexible living spaces are conducive to modern family life. Daylight to internal spaces has been increased to reduce the demand for artificial lighting and increase the occupants’ well-being, and full advantage has been taken of beautiful views of the local valley.
‘As well as bringing older homes into the 21st century and reducing carbon and other environmental impacts,’ says Nick Tune, ‘this is the kind of regeneration that can boost local economies during these difficult financial times – reinvigorating streets and communities.’
When in use, the homes will be monitored for energy use, and for reductions in heat loss and air leakage.