Constructive Voices News

Blog : Report Shows how Innovation Unlocks Affordable, Carbon Neutral Homes

todayDecember 2, 2022


A recent post-occupancy evaluation, funded by Commonweal Housing, on ZED PODS’ Hope Rise is a reminder of how important it is to be conducting this kind of research to help unlock quality homes at scale and pace. As the RIBA recently said, “If the construction sector is serious about reform and improvement, it needs to embrace post-occupancy evaluation.”

Hope Rise is a multiple award-winning development of eleven social homes for young adults in Bristol. These modular homes are constructed on steel podium above an operational public car park in St. George, Bristol. The scheme is part of a wider Innovate UK funded Research and Development project, ‘Enabling Housing Innovation for Inclusive Growth,’ implemented by a consortium of partners led by YTKO and including Bristol City Council, Bristol Housing Festival, BRE, and 9 leading modular housing companies in 2020.

This demonstrator project was built on the belief that innovative building methods have the potential to unlock affordable homes and also contribute to tackling the construction sector’s goal to reach net zero targets. Cllr Tom Renhard, Cabinet Member for Housing Delivery and Homes said, “Hope Rise has shown us that innovation is essential as we seek to deliver homes fit for the future to meet Bristol’s housing need. We hope the learning from this pilot project will lead to the design and delivery of hundreds if not thousands of homes.”

Hope Rise was the first completed project amongst those 9 housing schemes involved in the Innovate UK demonstrator project and was then showcased by the Construction Leadership Council and BEIS at ‘Build Better Now’, a virtual exhibition during COP26. Hope Rise was the only residential modular project from the UK amongst 17 exemplary sustainable projects across the globe.

Given the objectives of the project, post-occupancy evaluation was a key priority from the outset. Ellen Grist, Research and Evaluation Lead at Bristol Housing Festival said, “Hope Rise is a truly innovative development that has increased the capability and confidence of the whole supply and demand ecosystem, and the learning in this report has the potential to enhance the design and delivery of hundreds if not thousands of homes.”

Further innovation this pilot and post-occupancy evaluation has helped unlock

The Hope Rise scheme has influenced other local authorities in the UK to rethink their brownfield and unused sites and embrace modern methods of construction to deliver faster, good quality, well-designed, affordable homes. It has also encouraged ZED PODS’ in-house architectural team to push the boundaries and apply podium-based housing solution to difficult-to-build sites like Flood Zones and above existing residential buildings or multi-storey car parks.

ZED PODS have since applied the design principle for Hope Rise successfully for a 23-unit scheme in Ashford. The zero-carbon homes will be built on a steel podium in a Flood Zone 3 area and will be the local authorities’ first modular scheme.

Their in-house design team have incorporated all the necessary safety features and flood risk mitigation measures for this social housing due to the site’s location. The project has received planning permission from the Local Planning Authority and go-ahead from the Environment Agency.

Similar planning success has been obtained by ZED PODS for another social housing project in Tiverton for Mid-Devon District Council. The site is in the Flood zone area and is set to be operationally carbon-neutral, making this one of the first social housing projects of this type within the district and continuing the local council’s ambition towards being carbon zero by 2030.

A demonstrator project, in conjunction with a post-occupancy evaluation, has been shown to be an effective model for unlocking this innovative housing solutions, and has been seen to lead to further innovation. Bristol is leading the way in exploring and showcasing innovative approaches to tackling the housing crisis, climate, and ecological emergencies, and is calling on other cities to be bold implementing and evaluating innovative housing solutions. Doing so has been shown to help new modular providers enter the market, shape their new housing products and delivery services, and unlock a supply chain of affordable, carbon-zero homes.

Download the full blog here.

Dr. Ellen Grist MEng EngD CEng MICE,  Research and Evaluation Lead, Bristol Housing Festival      

Debansu Das MCIH, MBA, BEE,  Business Development Director,              ZED PODS LIMITED

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