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Resource efficiency comes home

It’s now five months since Resource Efficient Scotland was formed, bringing together for the first time expertise in waste, energy and water into a one-stop shop solution.  

Iain Gulland - Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland | 20 Sep 13

One of the challenges in the past few months has been taking the sometimes abstract idea of ‘resource efficiency’ and bringing it to life with tangible examples.  I think that the Resource Efficient House, which was formally opened yesterday, does just that perfectly.

It’s a real life illustration of what can be achieved when resource efficient principles are considered at every stage of the process, proof that sustainable construction doesn’t have to mean higher costs.  Our hope is that in showcasing this house to the industry, there’s potential to lever investment in new building practices and materials – and in fact, it’s great news that our partner in this project, housing developer Tigh Grian Ltd has since won a contract to build 48 socially rented houses in Alva with funding from the Scottish Government’s Greener Homes Innovation Scheme.

We know that the construction industry is currently the largest source of waste in Scotland, producing 7.4million tonnes in 2010.  This sector needs to become more resourceful in order to be successful.  The Resource Efficient House is a shining exemplar of what can be achieved in doing so. 

Not all of the principles employed will be right for every circumstance, but the house aims to highlight the many ways that resource efficiency can be used.  It’s for construction companies in Scotland to pick and choose what suits them best, applying these new materials and practices in ways that meet their requirements.

This can be seen in the very foundations of our house.  Four ‘pods’ were constructed off-site and pre-finished to include kitchen, bathrooms, tiling and paintwork before being assembled on-site – taking as little as one day for a typical three bedroom home.  This allows complete control of cost and waste, and means weather conditions aren’t a factor.  The result represents a standard model which can be adapted depending on how it will be used – offering the flexibility that’s so important in this sector.  And SIPFIT, producer of modular designed houses including this house, has recently secured a new facility in Shotts, to be operational towards the end of this year. Such investment recognises the potential in this innovative way of building. 

More resource efficient ways of living can be seen in every nook and cranny of the house, it’s written into every element, it’s ingrained in every feature.  Kitchen worktops made from recycled coffee cups and yoghurt pots are as attractive as they are functional; a mixture of reclaimed and transformed furniture doesn’t just serve a function, it also tells a story; and wood burners and windows combine to provide an environmentally friendly solution to our often unpredictable Scottish weather!

Standing in the house yesterday, it was just so easy to see how all of this comes together to present an attractive offering to the construction sector – sustainable housing that not only benefits the householder, but also helps to cut costs and make the best use of resources possible.

The house will be at the BRE Innovation Park at Ravenscraig for the next two years and I’d encourage anyone in this sector to take the opportunity to visit the house and see for themselves that the benefits of resource efficiency really are worth investing in. 

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