local authority seeking partners for a £300m framework

Norwich City Council launched the tender notice earlier this month, in what could become one of the largest drives to build Passivhaus homes seen in this country.

It is believed the framework, which will be open to all housing associations, could deliver 900 Passivhaus homes - which are built to rigorous design standards to ensure they are highly energy efficient - over its four year life.
There is an immediate pipeline of three projects based in Norwich to build a total of 287 Passivhaus homes, with further projects likely to follow.

The construction framework, dubbed Fabric First, will be used by the council and others to develop schemes built to the standard more commonly used in Germany and Scandinavia.
A spokesperson from Norwich City Council said: ‘We are seeking contractors for our own council-led schemes but by setting up a framework, it will be easier for other local authorities and registered providers to procure contractors with the skills and expertise to build to Passivhaus standards.

‘Norwich City Council is keen to exceed the standards required in building regulations, both for environmental reasons and as part of a drive to reduce fuel poverty.’
It is designed to provide a supply chain of partners to facilitate the building of these homes economically and quickly. It will be awarded on 4 August and run for at least four years.

Andrew Eagles, managing director of consultancy Sustainable Homes, said: ‘It’s really exciting. It is possible that as [former design standard] the Code for Sustainable Homes is wound down, councils make more use of Passivhaus instead.
‘The Passivhaus standard is really good, because it is about comfort as well as just energy efficiency.’

Passivhaus homes have to be extremely air-tight and installed with high thermal insulation, making it an expensive and difficult standard to achieve. However, occupants can save up to 80% on energy bills.

Joanne Wheeler, senior sustainability advisor at the UK Green Building Council, said: ‘It’s great to see the public sector taking a lead in developing high quality affordable homes and trialling new methods of delivery through the supply chain. The future residents of these homes will be able to enjoy very low energy bills for years to come.’
In 2012, Norwich-based housing association Broadland Homes launched a 208-home scheme in the city which, at the time, was the largest project in the UK.


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