Eco Drive

To understand the Future Homes challenge, we’ve created ‘Project 80’, which is a research and development programme in conjunction with Birmingham City University (BCU), key product manufacturers and industry bodies, and contractors.

Together, we are developing, monitoring and understanding over 50 homes that meet the Future Homes Standard before 2025. This will generate a significant body of knowledge to enable us to understand what works for us and our residents. Eco Drive is the first development, featuring 12 homes.

The homes look like traditional new builds, but once you go inside you quickly see the elements which make these buildings so special.

Annie Field, policy and practice manager at CIH focusing on critical areas of asset management, including building safety and net-zero carbon

The technology

In order to maximize research benefit we utilised several different specifications across the homes. Here are some of the key technologies we used:

  • Air-Source Heat Pumps – produce both space heating and hot water (10 homes)
  • Hot Water Heat Pumps – produce hot water and can be used in conjunction with panel heaters for space heating (2 homes)
  • PV/Solar Panels – produce localised electricity for the homes
  • Waste Water Heat Recovery – recovers waste heat from baths and showers and uses that to pre-heat incoming cold feeds (all homes)
  • Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery – extracts air from the properties and utilises waste heat to warm incoming fresh air and reduce heat loss (4 homes)

Interim report

In July 2023, we published our interim report. It shows everything from the methodology and construction, to the experience of our occupants and the lessons we learnt. Click on the button below to see it:

Interim report

The journey to net zero is so complex and difficult that we will never get there unless we collaborate and work together more effectively

Mike Leonard, CEO of The Building Alliance and Visiting Professor in Manufacturing and Construction at BCU

Recognition from the industry

The response to this development has been fantastic with Eco Drive receiving the following awards...

This winning project has been honoured not just for its development of dwellings that meet the future homes standards, but for their open-source attitude to sharing.

Lord John Lytton, Awards Panel Chair for CABE

We’d like to thank the following for their input and support with this pioneering housing development:

  • Birmingham City University
  • Building Alliance
  • Tricas Construction - contractor
  • Oakley Architects - designed
  • Hawk Technical – SAP assessor
  • Thornton Firkin - EA
  • JCBI - CoW
  • Ibstock - bricks
  • H+H – aircrete blocks that help create efficient, airtight structures that can enhance the performance of energy saving technologies like underfloor heating and air source heat pumps, the latter of which were used in most of the first 12 of Project 80’s homes
  • Besblock – curing of these blocks was totally free of fossil fuels and utilised construction waste sourced from the West Midlands area
  • Xtratherm - insulation
  • Munster – windows and doors
  • Envirovent – the energiSava 250 MVHR unit extracts moisture-laden air from the wet rooms such as bathrooms, WCs, kitchen and shower rooms, and at the same time it supplies fresh air into the living areas, recovering the energy from the extracted air. It's highly efficient, affordable to run and has a low carbon footprint. The system is renowned for typically recovering around 60–95% of the heat in exhaust air, therefore improving energy efficiency of the dwellings.
  • Vaillant – air source heat pumps
  • Baxi – air source heat pumps
  • GlenDimplex – hot water heat pumps and heaters

This is a truly collaborate, progressive project and the results of the research will be used to inform countless projects in years to come.

Lord John Lytton (CABE)