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Case Study 122: Aurora House

What are case studies?

Case studies are what people and organsations have learned from delivering or developing a project or programme. They can help you to see what has worked on the ground and can give you ideas about how to tackle problems. They can also signpost you to people and organisations you may want to talk to.

Key contact

Angus Allan
South Lanarkshire College
Email: Angus.Allan@slc.ac.uk

In a nutshell

The Aurora House is a collaborative project between South Lanarkshire College, Dawn Construction and over 50 private sector partners. The project is a demonstration house that shows how a new build house can be developed that is low carbon and energy efficient, meeting the twin challenges of global warming and fuel poverty.

The project involved researching designing and constructing an affordable, low energy house on the college campus in East Kilbride. The house will now be used in education, skills development and knowledge exchange with the aim of promoting affordable low carbon housing in Scotland.

The issues

Key drivers

Developers of new build housing for sale and affordable rent face a range of issues relating to energy efficiency:

  • Rising fuel poverty levels and increasing fuel costs
  • The threat of global warming and climate change
  • Targets to reduce Scotland's carbon emissions by 42% by 2020, and the Sullivan Report's aim of zero carbon new build housing by 2016

In order to address these key drivers by reducing carbon emissions in new build housing, a number of challenges have to be tackled:

  • affordability is a major issue - with mortgage lending limited and public spending under pressure, for a low carbon house to be successful it must be built at an affordable cost
  • knowledge - for low carbon housing to become mainstream in Scotland, the development industry, councils and housing associations need to know what works and what is affordable
  • skills - in order to deliver low carbon housing, workers will need to develop new skills, whether in developing airtight housing or producing, installing and maintaining new technology

The approach to the issues

Keeping the heat in

The designers, Jewitt, Arschavir and Wilkie, took the approach that high levels of insulation and air tightness were the most effective way to increase energy efficiency, and the most affordable.

By careful design and by agreeing a modified approach to construction, the Aurora was able to achieve air leakage levels that are only 20% of those allowed by current building standards. A timber frame was also used for its high insulation. All doors and windows are triple glazed to minimise heat loss.

Low energy and resource use

Having reduced heat and energy loss, the project team then ensured that their specification guaranteed that a minimum of resources and energy are used in the home. Features include:

  • low energy under floor heating system
  • rainwater harvesting system
  • water saving bath and sinks
Energy generation

Having minimised the need for energy, the project team then looked at generating energy. Features installed include:

  • solar water heating
  • photovoltaic panels to provide electricity
  • ground source heat exchanger

How we got started

The project resulted from South Lanarkshire College and Dawn Homes agreeing to work together to deliver an affordable, energy efficient house.

The college plans to use the house in

  • education
  • training
  • skills transfer
  • knowledge exchange

For Dawn Construction and the 50 commercial companies who contributed to the project, the aim was to establish whether a zero carbon home could be built for an affordable price, and to mainstream the materials and technologies that proved successful. Companies involved in the production are already embedding lessons learned from the Aurora demonstration house into their mainstream projects.

Evidence of success

  • Homes for Scotland Award for Environmental Sustainability
  • Business to College Innovation Award
  • cross party motion at Holyrood commending the project

One great thing

Dawn Homes and its project partners have concluded that the approach is affordable and plan to adapt the design, materials and technologies for use in future mainstream projects for sale or for affordable rent.

What next

As a learning project, the focus is on gaining continuing knowledge from the Aurora Home. To this end South Lanarkshire College plan to use the Aurora Home for training and knowledge transfer and exchange.

Glasgow Caledonian will monitor the home in use in order to measure the efficacy of the home and its various technologies.

Scottish Centre for Regeneration

This document is published by the Scottish Centre for Regeneration, which is part of the Scottish Government. We support our public, private and voluntary sector delivery partners to become more effective at:

  • regenerating communities and tackling poverty
  • developing more successful town centres and local high streets
  • creating and managing mixed and sustainable communities
  • making housing more energy efficient
  • managing housing more efficiently and effectively

We do this through:

  • coordinating learning networks which bring people together to identify the challenges they face and to support them to tackle these through events, networking and capacity building programmes
  • identifying and sharing innovation and practice through publishing documents detailing examples of projects and programmes and highlighting lessons learned
  • developing partnerships with key players in the housing and regeneration sector to ensure that our activities meet their needs and support their work

Scottish Centre for Regeneration
Scottish Government
Highlander House
58 Waterloo Street
G2 7DA
Tel: 0141 271 3736
Email: contactscr@scotland.gsi.gov.uk
Website: www.partnersinregeneration.com

The views expressed in case studies are not necessarily shared by the Scottish Centre for Regeneration or the Scottish Government.

June 2010