Zero-Carbon Social Housing Scheme by Zed Pods & Mid-Devon District Council

Constructing Excellence

Mid Devon District Council (MDDC) has a vision to meet their housing needs and aspirations of their residents through a greater choice of high-quality new and adapted homes. This will help the council to support the social wellbeing needs of everyone who lives in Mid Devon and provide high quality growth in a high-quality environment.

Building affordable & energy-efficient homes remains a big problem for MDDC and relying on traditional construction is not the solution. They also wanted to build them as fast as possible and meet their ambition towards being carbon zero by 2030.

MDDC’s officers, internal and external stakeholders, residents and decision makers are not familiar with MMC-led construction methodology. There are plenty of misconceptions and mistrust i.e. lack of education and awareness about “modular”. MDDC wasn’t sure which type of MMC solution will suit this site and how to go about their modular journey.

We worked together with an aim to demystify “modular” and drafted an extensive and innovative engagement plan which include factory visits, installing a full-sized demo unit in Cullompton and showing it to over 400 people. Winning “hearts and mind” was like winning half of the battle in the MMC journey.

MMC was chosen as the way forward, the speed of delivery, cost and quality of not only the building but for the tenants cost of living, made this the obvious choice. The additional bonus of being carbon Zero carbon not only aides the tenants but will enable them to achieve their pledge of carbon neutrality by 2030.

Working collaboratively, we designed this zero-carbon social-rent modular homes (6 apartments) on a council-owned site currently occupied by garages and car parking in Cullompton (St. Andrews Estate). The early engagement plan has led to successful planning application. The production and construction of these homes will take place off-site in the coming months, with the final installations and handover to the Council later this year. The development is set to be carbon-neutral, making this one of the first social housing projects of this type within the district.

The project is also a pioneering, environmental and socially focused development, with latest enhanced energy-efficient measures like heat pumps, solar panels, triple glazing. The units are designed and detailed to be both highly energy efficient & zero-operational-carbon in operation, to secure residents the lowest possible running costs. Offsite fabrication will increase building performance to meet zero carbon standards and a negative dwelling emissions rates through our “fabric first” approach and minimal wastage.

The uniqueness of the scheme started from the design stage. Using our innovative grid-based design we optimise the massing of 3X 1b and 3 X 2b at the site. We eliminated many high embodied energy and carbon products from our build system. Our master plan design, specifications, choice of material, construction & installation process – all catered towards achieving zero carbon development. The modules will be completed up to 90% in factory environment, which means that onsite installation time will be minimal and the houses will be delivered complete, resulting in little disruption to neighbouring properties and allowing the new residents to move in immediately.

Overall, this innovative development is helping MDDC to rethink the use of land & MMC-led construction methodology to solve their affordable housing and building communities which will be Zero Energy, Zero Carbon in nature.

Key facts

  • Unique: The modular scheme offers rapid, high-quality, zero-carbon housing on constrained sites, not possible with conventional new build. This retains and regenerates existing car parking spaces whilst providing 100% affordable housing.
  • Pioneering zero-carbon development: The scheme has been designed to achieve SAP ratings of over 100. Each house uses solar panels to generate renewable electricity, quiet running heat pumps, controlled ventilation to recover usable heat, triple glazing and LED lighting.
  • Ful Turnkey Delivery: The team has conceptualised, designed and obtained planning permission. “Hearts and mind” were won by using full sized demo unit at Bromley Civic Centre. Early process innovations helped to obtain go-ahead for council’s first modular project after 40 years.