We are often asked why we settled on a group of five homes when planning the development at Hockerton. There are practical reasons such as the size of the plot available, and planning requirements such as the need to incorporate street lighting in larger developments. But there is also a social reason. The following excerpt from OpenLearn LabSpace on team dynamics is a helpful summary…

How many people in a team?

Does the task need a lot of people doing the same task (for example, an advice centre) or a small, expert team addressing different parts of the task (for example, writing new information leaflets)? The size of the team needed will be an important consideration. The larger the team, the greater the potential variety of skills and knowledge, but as the size of the team increases each individual will have fewer opportunities to participate and influence proceedings. The size of a team is therefore a trade-off or balance between variety and individual input. A team of between five and seven people is considered best for the effective participation of all members, but to achieve the range of expertise and skills required, the group may need to be larger. This brings with it the challenges of how to manage and supervise a large team. In health and social care, multi-organisational teams may be large given the need to ensure representation from different organisations required to plan and deliver a particular service or address an individual service user’s case.

Homogeneous groups, whose members share similar values and beliefs, may be more satisfying to work in and may experience less conflict, but they tend to be less creative and produce greater pressures for conformity. In contrast, heterogeneous groups, whose members have a wider range of values and beliefs, are likely to experience greater conflict, but they have the potential for greater creativity and innovation.

Our shared values and beliefs certainly deliver less conflict, but we’ll leave it to you to decide whether it also means we are less creative!

Date posted: January 7, 2014 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Co-Housing Eco homes Health and Well Being Sustainable living

Hockerton Housing Project has installed solar PV equivalent to a third of its annual energy use.  The remainder of its energy needs (which are all electric) are met by two domestic-scale wind turbines.

Hockerton Housing Project is looking for community energy projects who want to learn from our experience, to take advantage of a new Mentoring Fund.

The scheme is only open to applicants until 12 December 2013, but successful applicants will receive support through to March 2015. It’s a rare offer of funding for community projects that aim to:
·      Generate energy
·      Reduce energy use, and/or
·      Manage and purchase energy

We have a range of experience to share, in terms of scale and technologies, in energy generation, reduction and management. And we are experienced in mentoring a range of projects, having run a similar service through the Energy Saving Trust, as well as our current advisory services.

We would be particularly keen to partner with multiple organisations to improve the cost-effectiveness of our application, with the programme starting with a joint workshop here at Hockerton before moving on to a mix of one-to-one support, community outreach and shared learning initiatives.

Find out more about the fund here, noting the eligibility criteria. If you are interested in the mentoring scheme please get in touch by 2 December, telling us a little about your organization and what you are trying to achieve in the next 18 months.

We look forward to hearing from you!
The HHP team

BBC Breakfast.... live from our roofToday BBC Breakfast used Hockerton Housing Project (HHP) as the backdrop to their coverage of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report.

The IPCC has found that climate change is having a bigger impact than previously expected, and that temperature rises continue though they are slower than expected.

Science aside, HHP was delighted to be asked to show why sustainable living makes sense whatever your views on carbon and the climate.

The live broadcasts featured the zero carbon homes and renewable energy systems to show how action on carbon helps reduce energy bills, aids energy security, and galvanizes community spirit.

Simon Tilley talked through life at Hockerton Housing Project, “Our mission at HHP is to bring sustainability to life and what better platform than BBC Breakfast with its 7 million viewers? We were probably chosen because our homes look and feel different but the reality is that every home can become more sustainable: our approach to energy efficiency works in a townhouse, as seen in Southwell’s autonomous house; renewable energy is now more accessible thanks to the feed-in tariff and local community schemes; and it has been fantastic to see the resurgence of food-growing and the allotment movement.”

His daughter Naomi gave the most powerful line though. When asked by the presenter if she felt confident about the future, she replied “I’m not confident, I’m scared”. She later admitted that part of the fear was down to being interviewed live on national TV, but the line helped the coverage look beyond the current ‘debates’ to what we need to focus on – the legacy we leave for our children.

Date posted: September 24, 2013 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Eco homes Sustainable living

If this property’s share in a community-owned wind turbine were taken into account, it would have the lowest energy use and CO2 emissions of all properties in the recent Retrofit Revealed report.

Retrofit for the Future

Two of HHP’s retrofit projects were included in a recent report by the Technology Strategy Board, and whilst the published results look good, they are not the full story due to the role played in our design by off-site renewable energy.

The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) funded the Retrofit for the Future competition to encourage innovation in the retrofit market and understand what actually works.  87 projects were awarded up to £150k each to retrofit social housing units, aiming to achieve an 80% reduction in CO2 levels compared to 1990 averages.  HHP won funding for a project to retrofit 2 semi-detached houses in Newark, Notts, which have now been re-occupied for over 2 years.

The TSB has recently produced a report, Retrofit Revealed, providing the first analysis of data from the monitoring of 37 of the projects.

As we had split the (not inconsiderable) budget between two properties, we were pleased to see that one of our retrofitted houses (property number TSB023) still had the 8th lowest level of CO2/m2 (3rd best of the all-electric properties) whilst the other (property number TSB022) was a credible 26th.  In terms of total energy use (per m2), our properties were 4th and 12th respectively.  This shows the impact of being an all-electric property, as electricity has a much higher carbon intensity than gas; and the impact of resident behaviour, as the houses are built and retrofitted to identical specifications.

Our choice of going ‘all-electric’ was deliberate: it is not a finite resource like gas; and because our design off-set that electricity use through investment (from the project budget) in a local community-owned wind turbine.

The impact of this investment is not recognised by the TSB report but it has proven much more cost-effective and a lower maintenance approach than on-site renewables.  Analysis of the energy data for Property TSB023, for which we have 2 years of meter readings, shows that if its share of SHOCK turbine generation were taken into account, it would have the lowest energy use and CO2 emissions of all properties. A £1,500 investment offset 43% of the annual energy use, and at the same time the social landlord has a regular income rather than a maintenance overhead.

This offsite offset would not be recognised in the properties’ Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) either.  This matters because the Government said in their Energy Efficiency Strategy that it intends to make more policies conditional on energy efficiency. Onsite renewables would be recognised, but what about all those unable to install systems onsite due to property type, leasehold or planning restrictions? Or simply unable to afford an onsite system at higher upfront cost per kW?

Further key aspects of our design (passive solar gain, high thermal mass and buffer zones) are not fully recognised by SAP, the Government’s assessment tool, and so similarly the benefits would not be fully registered in the EPC.

Here’s hoping that TSB take a technology-neutral look at the results and feedback into SAP what really works for different properties, and their residents.

 

Date posted: April 7, 2013 | Author: | 4 Comments »

Categories: Community Energy Eco homes Existing Homes Renewable energy Wind Turbines

This week Kevin McCloud returned to the Hedgehog Project in Brighton on Grand Designs and showed how that housing co-operative has moved on from being an innovative self-build to building roots in the community – reflecting our experience here at Hockerton Housing Project.

We are hoping that the planners at Newark and Sherwood will have been watching, as a plan for a new self-build partnership in Hockerton is now under consideration.  The plan is to demolish a redundant industrial building and replace it with five two-storey homes (up to 3 bedrooms) and two one-storey, one bed homes.

Hockerton Housing Project is supportive of the plans for a number of reasons:

  1. The energy efficient design will deliver 80% less carbon and 60% lower running cost than homes built to today’s minimum standards.
  2. Each dwelling will have a share in Hockerton’s community-owned wind turbine to ‘offset’ the carbon content of remaining energy use.
  3. Rainwater harvesting and water efficient appliances will limit demand for mains water, and a reedbed will be used to avoid nasty odours from sewage.
  4. Affordable housing allows people with a wider range of skills and expertise to live in rural areas.
  5. The co-operative nature of the development, both in its build and its maintenance, means pride will be taken in the quality of the work on buildings and landscaping.
  6. The more people resident in the village, the better for local businesses such as the farm shop, the pub,  restaurant and ice-cream parlour.

Self-build partnerships are rare, but offer many benefits, so let’s hope the planning officials see the merit of putting brownfield land to better use as a site for new affordable homes in Hockerton, further strengthening the village’s reputation as a hub of innovative and affordable energy efficient homes.

If you are interested in understanding how we developed our self-build at Hockerton Housing Project, and how the co-operative works in practice, make a new year’s resolution to come on one of our Sustainable Living Tours – the next one is 19 January 2013.

Date posted: December 31, 2012 | Author: | 2 Comments »

Categories: Co-Housing Eco homes New Build Rainwater Harvesting Reed Beds Sustainable living