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Barriers to Innovative Housing in Scotland: NRGStyle's 'ZEMCH 109' Case Study

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This paper presents a detailed description of the 'ZEMCH 109' project-a case study for the delivery of 'Zero Energy Mass Custom Homes (ZEMCH)' in the UK by NRGStyle, a Scottish entrepreneurial organisation. The paper aims to identify the processes, possibilities, barriers and limitations that industries may confront when applying ZEMCH theories in practice. Moreover, this paper describes the particulars of this project and recapitulates the academic studies referenced/developed around it. NRGStyle intended to attach new sustainable houses to existing postwar houses with generous plots. As a result, the owners could move to a super insulated house capable of generating clean energy, while the existing dwellings could be retrofitted and used for rental purposes. Mass customisation manufacturing processes are intended not only to ensure energy and resource efficiency through off-site construction, but also to achieve design flexibility that follows the principles of 'multi-generational homes' and to accommodate users' wants and needs. ZEMCH 109 began with the ambition to eradicate fuel poverty in Scotland by means of constructing "eco-houses". In 2009, the Mackintosh School of Architecture collaborated by collecting data from an existing property in Prestwick, Scotland, to generate the initial designs. A feasibility study was then funded by "CIC Start", Glasgow Caledonian University, whereby cost-effectiveness, energy efficiency and waste reduction aspects of the designs were analysed. After which, the Building Environments Analysis Unit (BEAU) of Sheffield University monitored the energy usage of the selected case study. Presently, NRGStyle is applying for the construction licence to erect a prototype show house. Ongoing research with the University of Edinburgh is focusing on how mass custom manufacture and marketing processes are linked to the delivery of zero energy houses. Finally, this paper also covers ongoing research into resource efficient materials and Circular Economic business models.
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Z E M C H 2 0 1 8
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
P R O C E E D I N G S
29th JANUARY 1ST FEBRUARY 2018, MELBOURNE
Edited by
Hing-wah Chau
Cynthia dos S. Hentschke
ZEMCH Network
Web: www.zemch.org
Melbourne School of Design
The University of Melbourne
Parkville, Victoria 3010
Australia
Published by ZEMCH Network
Copyright © ZEMCH Network
Printed in January 2018
ISBN: 978-0-7340-5486-9
BARRIERS TO INNOVATIVE HOUSING IN SCOTLAND:
NRGSTYLE’S ‘ZEMCH 109’ CASE STUDY
Pablo Jimenez-Moreno1, Alison Quinn2, Norrie Smith3 & Chintan V. Kantute4
1 Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of Edinburgh, UK,
s1474531@sms.ed.ac.uk
2 NRGStyle Research and Development, NRGStyle, Prestwick, Scotland, UK, alison@nrgstyle.com
3 NRGStyle Research and Development, NRGStyle, Prestwick, Scotland, UK, norman@nrgstyle.com
4 NRGStyle Research and Development, NRGStyle, Mumbai, India, kantute@gmail.com
Abstract: This paper presents a detailed description of the ‘ZEMCH 109’ project— a case study
for the delivery of ‘Zero Energy Mass Custom Homes (ZEMCH)’ in the UK by NRGStyle, a
Scottish entrepreneurial organisation. The paper aims to identify the processes, possibilities,
barriers and limitations that industries may confront when applying ZEMCH theories in practice.
Moreover, this paper describes the particulars of this project and recapitulates the academic
studies referenced/developed around it. NRGStyle intend to attach new sustainable houses to
existing post-war houses with generous plots. As a result, the owners could move to a super
insulated house capable of generating clean energy, while the existing dwellings could be
retrofitted and used for rental purposes. Mass customisation manufacturing processes are
intended not only to ensure energy and resource efficiency through off-site construction, but also
to achieve design flexibility that follows the principles of ‘multi-generational homes and to
accommodate users’ wants and needs. ZEMCH 109 began with the ambition to eradicate fuel
poverty in Scotland by means of constructing “eco-houses”. In 2009, the Mackintosh School of
Architecture collaborated by collecting data from an existing property in Prestwick, Scotland, to
generate the initial designs. A feasibility study was then funded by “CIC Start”, Glasgow
Caledonian University, whereby cost-effectiveness, energy efficiency and waste reduction
aspects of the designs were analysed. After which, the Building Environments Analysis Unit
(BEAU) of Sheffield University monitored the energy usage of the selected case study. Presently,
NRGStyle is applying for the construction licence to erect a prototype show house. Ongoing
research with the University of Edinburgh is focusing on how mass custom manufacture and
marketing processes are linked to the delivery of zero energy houses. Finally, this paper also
covers ongoing research into resource efficient materials and Circular Economic business
models.
Keywords: Planning Applications, Housing, ZEMCH, NRG Style, Theory Application
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1 Introduction
When Norrie Smith developed the idea of constructing eco-houses in 2005 and later
incorporating the NRGStyle company in 2011* to host the project, he could not have
imagined the long and complicated journey he was about to embark upon (Companies
House, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy). This was mainly due
to the fact that the ambitions of his project not only relied on dwelling, but in the search
of achieving social justices through the construction of houses. Houses that aid in
abolishing fuel poverty, reuniting families and promoting mental, physical, and social
health. Back then, an ‘Eco House’ was the closest term he could find to encompass his
idea.
The development of the project has involved continuous research and development, as
well as multiple learning processes. The decision to incorporate academia resulted in the
adoption of the ZEMCH term Zero Energy Mass Custom Home where the project
found a frame correlating with its ambitions. The project prototype will be constructed in
Prestwick, Scotland, at 109 Adamton Road South. Therefore, the project has been
named ‘ZEMCH 109’.
This document provides insights and explanations into the bureaucratic processes
crucial for building in Scotland. It narrates the ‘ZEMCH 109’ journey from NRGStyle’s
perspective, from its conception to current state. This study was developed following a
rigorous examination of the NRGStyle’s archive. The author’s aim was to identify the
moments where the project confront barriers for its completion, looking for the gaps
where scientific (academic) conjectures conflict with the practice.
2 Definition of the project
The ‘ZEMCH 109’ project aims to construct ‘net zero site energy houses, which means
that the houses constructed will produce at least as much energy through renewables as
they consume, when accounted on the grid interaction at the boundary of the building
site (Sartori et al, 2012: 10; Voos and Musall, 2013: 12; Torcellini et al., 2006: 4-5, 11;
Aelenei et al., 2015: 277, 293; Marszal et al., 2011: 972).
The Prestwick prototype will work as a show-house and example for its replication in
similar plots around the UK. The proposed houses will be attached to existing end-of-
terrace houses with generous plots; as a result, the owners will be able to move into a
new super-insulated house equipped with energy-efficient mechanical systems, while the
existing dwellings are able to be retrofitted and used for rental purposes (NRGStyle).
The intended houses can be produced following a standardised construction system, but
the outcome (house) has to adapt to each specific context plot size, latitude, orientation
and customer financial capacity therefore, mass customisation strategies will be utilised
to mediate these factors without modifying its procurement system. NRGStyle is the
agency that will manage the marketing, production and delivery of the zero energy
houses.
3 The Journey
In 2005, Norrie Smith started running a ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ scheme as a response
to the unsafe social conditions (Scottish Crime Prevention Council). The scheme
successfully brought the community together and consequently evolved into a
‘Regeneration Project’ that worked to improve the local built-environment. The ‘Raploch
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Regeneration Project’ and the ‘Home zone’
1
principle were used as conceptual
references to start shaping the project (Robertson; Kaiya, 2016).
It was observed that the construction of the built environments, in particular those
financed by individuals, require high investments that people in poor areas are not
capable of funding. It was also noted that a significant percentage of their income was
utilised to pay for energy bills, to the extent that increasing cases of ‘fuel poverty’
2
were
becoming evident (fig. 1). Therefore, the generation of energy through renewables was
considered as a logical solution.
Figure 1: Media (newspaper) coverage of the ‘fuel poverty’ situation in the area (NRGStyle archive)
The approach to energy efficiency has been the most significant learning curve for the
project and the central driver thus far. Research at that time consisted of attending
energy fairs and training as wind turbine technicians. It was quickly understood that
renewables do not represent a significant economic and environmental value if they are
not merged with passive design strategies airtightness and thermality. The initial idea
was to retrofit existing dwellings, but retrofitting was considered a complicated process
with uncertain impact. On the other hand, the construction of new ‘eco-houses’ is
measurable and straightforward.
Through intuitive surveys in the area, a large number of end-of-terrace houses with room
for the construction of new houses were identified. Given that it followed the desired
characteristics, the house located on 109 Adamton Road South was bought in January
2007 with the construction of a prototype in mind. Several months later, an ‘Outline
Planning Application’ was submitted for its construction, however the construction
license application was refused some months after.
Actions towards social regeneration and sustainability are usually encouraged by
politicians and governments; however, the ZEMCH 109 project has encountered
obstacles in policies that have delayed its completion. The paper proceeds by presenting
the execution of the project, planning application processes, its refusal and actions taken
by NRGStyle in order to counteract them.
1
A home zone is defined as the residential street where people come before vehicles (CIHT-4).
2
A fuel-poor household is defined as one which spend more than 10% of its income on energy to heat its house to an adequate
standard of warmth (Energy UK).
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4 The Planning Applications
4.1 Outline Planning Application
The first planning application process lasted from March 2007 to June 2008. An ‘Outline
Planning Permission for the erection of dwellinghouse’
3
was submitted through a local
Architect
4
(NRGStyle (a), 2007). Statutory basic information was supplied including
location and block plan. No architectural plans, design statement nor reference to Eco
House guidelines were required at this stage.
In May 2007, a letter from a council planning officer
5
notified that the policies H6 & H7 of
the Local Development Plan (LDP)
6
were ‘material to the consideration of [the]
application’ (NRGStyle (b), 2007). A material consideration, in Scotland, is a process in
planning law which the decision must consider during the assessment of an application
for development when deciding the application’s outcome. Policies H6 and H7, which
were later ‘Refusal Reasons’ stated in 2007, are the following:
- H6 ‘the layout, density, plot ratio, scale, form and materials of any
proposed development not detracting from the character of the
surrounding buildings and the locality; and… The provision of an
acceptable residential environment/ amenity being provided’
- H7 ‘Within areas predominantly in residential use as identified on the
Proposals Map, the Council will seek to protect the character and
amenity of the area concerned, especially from non-residential
development with potentially adverse effects on local amenity.’
(emphasis added)
It was advised to revise these policies on the council’s website. However, they were not
available online at the time of writing; they have most likely been superseded by the
most recent LDP.
It was also stated that “… the proposed development would interrupt the rhythm of the
street…, unduly compromise the established character of the area and… would have an
adverse impact on the visual and residential amenity of both the existing and proposed
properties. Finally, it was suggested to submit a written statement to attempt to justify
the proposal (NRGStyle (c), 2007).
Therefore, in June 2007, a response supporting the application was submitted arguing
that (from NRGStyle’s perspective) the application submitted complies with the
mentioned policies; backing up the argument by referring to existing extensions
approved in the area, including the one located on the site.
It was also expressed that the arguments and policies were subjective and lacked
measurability, e.g. it was doubtful to state the proposal would interrupt the rhythm of the
street compromising the character of the area, when it is composed by an eclectic
combination of housing types (detached, semi-detached, terraced and flats) and styles
dating from different eras (NRGStyle (d), 2007).
3
At 109 Adamton Road South, Prestwick, with the following reference number: 07/00380/OUT.
4
David Campbell from ‘Architecture Design and Development Solutions’.
5
South Ayrshire Council Planning Officer, David Clark.
6
The South Ayrshire Local Plan (SALP) is the land use plan that sets out strategic spatial priorities and policies for specified uses
(South Ayrshire Council).
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At this point, construction details or design representations couldn’t be submitted;
therefore, it was compromised that the quality and design styles would conform to the
mentioned policies.
4.1.1 Outline Planning Application Refusal
The Outline application was refused in August 2007 stating that it was contrary to the
above mentioned policies H6 and H7.
The hired architect advised to appeal at National Government level, as there was no
objective reasons for the refusal. Therefore, in September 2007, an appeal was
submitted to Scottish Ministers at the Scottish Government Inquiry Reporters Unit in
Falkirk. The appeal contained all the information submitted in the Outline Planning
Application and a supporting letter from the neighbours.
4.1.2 Outline Planning Application Refusal Appeal
As part of the appeal procedures, a Scottish Government Reporter
7
, accompanied by the
council planning officer in charge, visited the site in April 2008. The applicants were
permitted to attend but not to speak to nor approach the Reporter.
The appeal decision was dismissed in May 2008, which meant that planning permission
was refused under the appeal process. The reasons stated for the dismissal followed the
Planning Application Refusal, arguing again that the proposal runs contrary to the
already mentioned policies H6 and H7. The objecting points remained subjective
declaring that “…the development would be unsympathetic in relation to the planned
form of the area [sacrificing] the symmetry of the terrace, and appear[ing] out of place…”
Moreover, the mentioned similar existing examples were not considered comparable to
the proposed site. The community supportive letter was noted, however, the council’s
concern was that by allowing the proposal, this would set a negative precedent.
The Reporter’s decision was final
8
. Consequently, a new planning application could not
be submitted for another two years from the date of the Reporter’s decision.
A senior planning manager and an elected councillor visited the site and commented,
if it [the application] had landed on a different planner’s
desk on a different day, then planning permission would
have been granted”.
This statement, not only reinforces that the planning process loses subjectivity when
justified with unmeasurable policies, it also suggests a matter of luck, which refers to the
criteria, capability and efficiency of the planning officer determined.
In June 2008, a supportive Councillor
9
attended a meeting with the Head of Planning and
a Senior Planner to discuss the proposal and its outcome. It was informed then that
planning history would be taken into account in further procedures even in applications
resubmitted after the two year’s time gap. Advised by diverse councillors it was decided
not to appeal and invest (the time and money) on preparing a new planning application.
7
Ms Allison Coard.
8
Could only be reconsidered if any person was aggravated in the process, conferred in Sections 237 and 239 of the Town and
Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997.
9
Hugh Hunter
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4.2 Planning Application Interim Period
In January 2009, the original architect was discarded and an Independent Planning
Consultant
10
was commissioned to prepare a report over the planning decision. It was
not until this date, that the applicants were able to see the council notifications and
previous consultant reports. The new consultant noted that ‘green credentials’, although
laudable, would NOT overcome the Council and the Reporter’s decisions. She finally
suggested to meet the council’s Planning Manager
11
before “…getting more detailed
plans drawn up to demonstrate what you would like to do.”
In February 2009, the applicants met the Planning Manager and Officer, the latter who
refused the previous planning permission. The Planning Manager explained her officers
point of view and gave the applicants the same courtesy. The Planning Manager could
not see any apparent issue and asked the Planning Officer if planning permission could
be given to an alternative proposal on the same plot. He refused and was visibly
uncomfortable at the suggestion, insisting that South Ayrshire Council could not be seen
to be doing a U turn!. The manager herself drew some diagrams on paper and
suggested the applicants elaborate with architectural drawings and arranging another
meeting.
At the time of writing, the advises given by diverse consultants opposed to each other
and, only two years after starting the first planning application process, it was finally
advised to elaborate an architectural design. The council planner’s ironic contradiction
emphasised the subjectivity of their decisions; and demonstrate that planning
applications are linear bureaucratic processes, where planners resist to modifications as
they might imply re-work.
On the coming months, efforts were focused on consolidating a political network that
could back-up the project, getting the support of Mr Chic Brodie who went on to become
the Scottish Government MSP
12
for the area and who continues to be a strong supporter
of the project to this day; while searching for the adequate person to elaborate the
design.
An academic was selected over an architect
13
, in order to capture the ideas of
sustainability and replicability. Dr Masa Noguchi, Lecturer in Architectural Technology
and Code for Sustainable Homes Assessor, had a portfolio on ‘Mass Customisation’,
which was considered more suitable for the project.
5 The Academia Approach
In February 2010, the collaboration with Dr Noguchi was initiated, who at that point was
conveniently based on the Glasgow School of Art, working with the Mackintosh
Environmental Architecture Research Unit (MEARU). Dr Noguchi suggested that one of
his Masters Students
14
become involved, who later visited the site and eventually
produce a series of architectural designs.
The project was utilised as a case study for the design and test of architectural
integration of Hybrid Solar Thermal Mass (HSTM) and heat waste management
10
Greta Roberts MA Dip TP Town Planning Consultant.
11
Catherine Parish Lead Conservation Planner, Planning Service, South Ayrshire.
12
MSP stands for Member of the Scottish Parliament.
13
Architect Paul Barham from John Gilbert Architects, Glasgow.
14
Audrius Ringaila
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(NRGStyle and ZEMCH Network, 2012: 24). An environmental analysis of the site was
developed, including sun and wind analysis, a thermal survey of the house envelope and
equipment, and measurement of internal temperature, humidity and CO2 (NRGStyle and
ZEMCH Network, 2012: 26-31). Then, a design was developed in response to the
negative aspects observed, which consisted of an adaptation of a model used in their
previous studies. The proposal demonstrated an increase of heat efficiency obtained by
maximising solar gains and with a smart use of the heat extracted from mechanical
systems (boiler and kitchen extractor) and water used in utilities (washing machine,
shower and sinks). The heat recovered, plus the obtained from PV/T panels, was
proposed to be introduced through a mass concrete wall and parts of the flooring
(NRGStyle, 2012: 35-36). This design, in conjunction with supportive studies, shaped the
document submitted for the further planning application.
5.1 Application for Full Planning Permission
After careful deliberations and multiple meetings between NRGStyle, the planning
consultant, academics and construction engineers from an industrial company
15
; a Full
Planning Application was finally submitted in March, 2012. The application consisted of:
location plan, ownership plan, block plan, architectural plans (floor, roof, sections and
elevations), a design statement and an illustrative video (fig. 2 and 3).
Figure 2: (left) Perspective of ZEMCH 109 proposal, south view
Figure 3: (right) ZEMCH 109 proposal with wind turbine, frontal view
In addition, the application had an appendix, which consist of a series of academic
documents that justify the dwelling’s design, in terms of sustainability, which include: a
‘Standard Assessment Procedure’ (SAP) that demonstrate that the design was capable
of achieving ‘net’ zero site energy capabilities. A PV/T assessment (fig. 4). Technical
information of the construction system provided by the construction engineers. A socio-
demographic survey of Prestwick, Scotland and the UK, which demonstrated that
Prestwick had the lowest social housing stock in the region, where more than 20% of the
dwellings in Scotland are terraced (NRGStyle, 2012: 90-96). An academic paper that
presented how the knowledge obtained from technical visits to Japanese Housing
factories was transferred to the prototype (Noguchi et al., 2011). And 9 different designs
alternatives (fig. 5).
15
Designers and Construction Engineers from Powerwall Frame System Company based in Glasgow. Currently under
an Administration status.
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Figure 4: (left) Outcomes of analysis over the efficiency of PV in the proposed site.
Figure 5: (right) ZEMCH 109 alternative design proposals
In short, it was a solid and well referenced document. However, it might be considered
overwhelming, extent or out of normality. The council had troubles uploading and
reproducing the video, which was a crucial part of the submission; and there were no
comments on the academic papers or technical information, which suggests the
authorities might overlook them or did not comprehend them.
In May 2012, the application for Full Planning Permission was refused. The reasons
remain on the same line as the previous refusal. It was stated again that the proposed
dwelling house does not respect the scale, form and density of its surroundings and
does not enhance the character or amenity of the locality. The policies H6 and H7 were
referenced once more.
On August of 2012, the first ZEMCH International Conference took place in Glasgow (fig.
6). NRGStyle had a pivotal position, not only on assisting in the organisation of the
event, but with the ‘ZEMCH 109’ project taken as a case study of several of the papers
presented. All the delegates were taken to visit the site, where Dr Avi Friedman
highlighted the virtues of the project.
Simultaneously, an application was made to South Ayrshire Council to appeal the refusal
decision (NRGStyle (b), 2012). An appeal at this stage is held by the Local Review
Board (LRB), which is a Board of Elected members of the Council. A site visit was
requested so that all members of the local review board could visit the site in person.
The site visit did not take place.
The LRB meeting
16
was held in October 2012 and they upheld to the refusal (NRGStyle
(c), 2012). As there were divided opinions, the decision went to vote, where councillors’
arguments were stated in personal voice, e.g. “I would not have a problem living next
door to it” or “I wouldn’t like to see that building when I’m out walking my dog”. A
councillor
17
who had previously assured interest in the project, left the proceedings
before voting. The LRB decision was taken without the advice of any expertise on
sustainability and was driven by personal judgements.
16
A ‘court room’ style discussion where the applicants could only watch from the viewing gallery.
17
Mr Hugh Hunter
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There was the possibility to select another plot in another Local Authority for the
construction of the prototype; however, NRGStyle decided to insist over the same site to
understand all the adversities that the project could confront in the future. Since then, the
Planning Process has been on hold and the project was developed form other angles.
5.2 Parallel work
‘ZEMCH 109’ continued being used for academic studies. In 2012, monitoring systems
were installed in the existing house to promote energy conscious behaviours (Han et al.,
2012: 168). It demonstrated that the energy patterns have a correlation with the
occupants’ lifestyle (Han et al., 2012: 175). The same data was utilised by additional
studies that assess the cost-effective relevance that passive design techniques and use
of Photovoltaic Thermal (PV/T) systems and Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery
(MHVR) (Rohatgi et al., 2012: 223; Dhamne et al., 2012: 613). These studies highlighted
the significant effects of building orientation and thermal properties on reduction of
energy demand. In 2013, Dr Noguchi extended the research of MVHR and PV/T
systems. The study evaluated 19 different scenarios in order to identify their economic
value over 10 years (Noguchi, 2013: 1256). Moreover, in 2013, the NRGStyle team
attend to the ‘ZEMCH International Conference’ in Miami, USA, where another study
developed around the project was presented (fig. 7) (Jimenez-Moreno and Noguchi,
2013: 85-100).
Figure 6: (left) ‘ZEMCH 2012 International Conference’ reception and official photo: Dr Masa Noguchi,
Chic Brodie, Norrie Smith, Alison Quinn and Paul Heron
Figure 7: (right) NRGStyle team in the ZEMCH 2013 International conference in Miami, USA: (from left
to right) John Onyango, Hasim Altan, Dr Masa Noguchi, Alison Quinn and Pablo Jimenez-Moreno
In September 2013, NRGStyle members, accompanied by a selected group of experts in
sustainability
18
, were invited to a Scottish Government Meeting at Holyrood in Edinburgh
to present their project and to discuss their experience, which helped that in 2014, the
Scottish Government introduced Material Consideration in sustainable development
(Scottish Government, 2014). Later that year, NRGStyle was referenced by theHome
Renaissance Foundation’ in a publication that promoted multi-generational Living
(Housing LIN, 2015: 6-7). In 2015, Norrie was invited as a Speaker in the House of Lords
at Westminster, London, to present the ‘ZEMCH 109’ multigenerational living qualities.
In 2015, Norrie introduced plans to build a housing factory in Scotland at the “ZEMCH
International Conference” at the University of Salento in Italy. In 2016, part of the
NRGStyle team attended the ‘ZEMCH Mission to Japan’ to visit the state-of-the-art
facilities of leading housing manufacturers (ZEMCH Network). The knowledge gathered
from the visit is being analysed for its successful application in the UK context. In
18
Prof Tim Sharpe from MEARU, Gareth Feeney and David Fotheringham from the Scottish Government Sustainability
Group.
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parallel, complementary site works initiated in 2008 and completed in 2016, to adjust the
site to some notes and advices observed in the application refusals. The prototype
design has been modified during these years.
6 Future actions and targets
Foremost, NRGStyle will apply for construction permission for the ZEMCH 109
prototype. A new planning application will be placed in the coming months considering
the same site, but a modified design proposal. It follows the outcomes obtained from the
academic studies, but is shaped in a layout, form and style sympathetic to the
surrounding urban context (fig. 8)
Elevation North
Elevation South
8
8.1
1.2
2.1
0.90.9
0.6
1
2.1
0.75
0.75
2.05
2.1
0.9
0.9
0.9
2.1
1.2
0.6 0.6
Figure 6: ZEMCH 109 design response to refusal (work in progress)
The new proposal considers the use of Scottish Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) for the
structural shell. CLT envelopes have demonstrated to be highly airtight where insulation
material can be easily attached. Moreover, its production process allows high
customisation, in terms of where to cut-out openings. CLT boards can be outsourced
until the company is capable of producing their own.
The company will follow Circular Economy principles to ensure sustainability, not only on
their operational life, but also during their construction and demolition. Circular economy
refers to the economic model in which resources are reutilised instead of being
disposed, maximising their value and regenerating products and materials at the end of
each service life (Wrap).
ZEMCH 109 provides an excellent platform for introducing circularity in terms of resource
recovery and multigenerational utility. Prefabrication and modular production allows the
easy disassembly of the material so as to maximize recovery and regeneration at the
end of its service life. Circular business models promote the selling of performance of
certain goods than the good itself. However, the enterprise benefits, in terms of profit
and reputation remain uncertain. Primarily because there is a direct competition with the
traditional approach of ownership of tangible goods, in this case a ‘house’ (Planning,
2015).
Moreover, NRGStyle propose the retrofitting of houses as part of the project and is
exploring the viability of adopting innovative circular business model regarding to:
product recycling transformation and customisation possibilities in material recycled from
construction.
Research will remain as the main drive for continuous improvement, which has been
spotted as a key element of the project. Innovation and efficient application of new
technologies is essential for the conception of zero energy dwellings. This study, not only
demonstrates the barriers of implementing ZEMCH theories in practice, but will be
utilised to promote the project in the academic and political circles. NRGStyle will
develop an expert planning questionnaire to investigate whether these barriers to
innovation are common place throughout. This questionnaire will be presented to all
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local planning authorities in the UK. The data will be collated and presented to ZEMCH
2019 for review.
7 Conclusions
The complexity of housing, as practice and concept, could not only be addressed only
from a social stand point. The ‘ZEMCH 109' journey demonstrated that planning
permission can be refused even with the guidance of qualified consultants and
academics. Despite being sceptical about the capability, efficiency and objectivity of the
existing policies and governmental authorities; it has been understood that the success
of a housing project relies on holding an adequate interdisciplinary team that work
around architectural principles.
This paper presents the ZEMCH 109 project, describing its transformations to adapt to
the limits and obstructions presented in its progress. ZEMCH 109 is a feasibility study
for the development of zero energy houses through mass customisation systems
initiated as a ‘scheme' to promote community security, which has evolved into a housing
project. Its ambition consists of providing ‘zero energy houses' to families that currently
live in dwellings that do not accommodate their needs, in terms of energy efficiency,
spatial flexibility and adaptability to family change.
The project was originated to overcome social necessities. Academics got involved to
concretise the ideals into a prototype. Their approach resulted in the adoption of mass
customisation strategies and zero energy theories and technology. However, even
backed with scientific arguments, the prototype was not guaranteed with construction
permission.
This study demonstrates that the application of innovative housing energy efficiencyis
highly dependent on modifying/adjusting to construction policies despite the high levels
of scientific and academically engineering research made on during the design process.
Planning policies are focused on conserving homogeneous "traditional" urban
appearances that conflict with innovative proposals. These policies do not reflect
governmental ambitions towards carbon reduction and energy efficiency. Their
modification process is slow and dependant to the efficiency and judgement of local
authorities. NRGStyle have taken actions towards the modification of these policies.
However, policies (new or old) are open to interpretation; therefore, the approval of new
policies still do not ensure success on future planning applications. Moreover, planning
applications are long and linear bureaucratic processes where previous refusals are
carried, like stigmas, regardless whether or not there have been modifications in the law.
To guarantee planning permission, diverse entities were involved in the conception of
the project: applicants (users), technical expertise (scientists), planning consultants,
politicians and designers (architects). Ironically, it is unclear when the architectural or
engineering expertise have to be included in a sustainable housing project. Housing
planning applications can be initiated without architectural designs, fostering
misinterpretations and premature verdicts over incomplete projects. The architectural
practice, which is supposedly the expert entity in terms of sustainable housing, is not at
the centre (or top) of the decision processes, empowering other entities that lack
judgement on sustainable design, e.g. planners and consultants.
It has also been recognised that political support is crucial for a positive affect on the
policy decision making process. NRGStyle has developed a significant effective and
ZEMCH 2018 International Conference, Melbourne, Australia
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JIMENEZ-MORENO, QUINN, SMITH & KANTUTE
varied network, not with the intention of inducing politicians; but, due to the complexity of
the project (sustainability), to certify a full understanding of it. It has been observed that
decisions made by planners and local governmental committees could be taken
precociously if they have to rush their decisions due to established bureaucratic timings
and formats.
Acknowledgements
This study was founded by NRGStyle Research and development with the support of the Mexican
National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) and developed in the University of
Edinburgh. The archival information is stored in the NRGStyle headquarters in Prestwick,
Scotland, UK, which can be accessed under appointment by contacting the company. The
authors also appreciate the assistance of Rudi Quinn.
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... In addition, Japanese regulations demand a physical gap between buildings to protect them against earthquakes and fire, provoking the dominance of detached housing. Consequently, houses are built almost anywhere and in any form and typology, raising the need for customisation [136]. ...
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Zero Energy Homes ZEMCH: Towards The Delivery of Mass Custom Homes
  • L Aelenei
  • A Frattari
  • L Riscala
  • H Altan
  • A Hashemi
  • A Tabet
  • Anissa
  • M Noguchi
Aelenei, L., Frattari, A., Riscala, L., Altan, H., Hashemi, A., Tabet A., Anissa, and Noguchi, M. (2015). Zero Energy Homes, in M. Noguchi (ed.), ZEMCH: Towards The Delivery of Mass Custom Homes. Switzerland: Springer.
Available from: Open Source Repository
  • South Council
  • Ayrshire
Council, South Ayrshire (2014) Local development plan. Available from: Open Source Repository <http://www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/planning/local-development-plans/local-developmentplan.aspx> (accessed 29 November 2017).
Available from: Open Source Repository
  • R Group
Group, R. (2017) Raploch regeneration, Stirling. Available from: Open Source Repository <http://www.robertson.co.uk/project/raploch-regeneration-stirling>.
Promoting Energy Conscious Behaviour of Occupants Through Monitoring Energy Usage Patterns
  • L Han
  • H Altan
  • M Noguchi
Han, L., Altan, H. and Noguchi, M. (2012) Promoting Energy Conscious Behaviour of Occupants Through Monitoring Energy Usage Patterns. Paper presented at the ZEMCH 2012 International Conference, Glasgow, UK.
A Comparative Performance Study of Domestic Energy Simulation Tools Applicable to the Housing Design Decision-Making Process
  • P Jimenez-Moreno
  • M Noguchi
Jimenez-Moreno, P. and Noguchi, M. (2013) A Comparative Performance Study of Domestic Energy Simulation Tools Applicable to the Housing Design Decision-Making Process. Paper presented at the ZEMCH 2013 International Conference, Miami, USA.