TWO local families in Northampton wanted to test ‘homes of the future’


Registration for families opens at Grand Designs Live Birmingham on 7th October at the NEC

Think new builds are predictable and cookie cutter in style and layout? Think that sustainable living comes with lifestyle compromises? Well, think again…

Setting out to prove once and for all that sustainable housing can be a practical, affordable and a mass market new build solution in the UK, VELUX has built two fully furnished zero carbon homes in Rothwell, Northamptonshire, and is launching a search at Grand Designs Live Birmingham this October for two local families to test drive them for a year.

The VELUX CarbonLight Homes will set a new carbon neutral benchmark in the UK, and will transform the way the industry perceives sustainable homes. They offer a credible eco- family home model that can be economically replicated to mass market appeal without compromising on quality, style, comfort and efficiency.

These pioneering homes are part of the VELUX Group’s Model Home 2020 project – an initiative that consists of six experimental buildings constructed across Europe to “Active House” principles – a more comfortable and user friendly sustainable concept that is driven by emotion and quality of life – so the homes are not just eco-friendly, but human friendly too.

Keith Riddle, Managing Director from VELUX adds: “Unlike traditional new build UK homes nowadays that commonly have reduced glazed areas to keep the heat in, an ‘active home’ like ours for example, is flooded with daylight and fresh air – whilst still not compromising on efficient insulation. An ‘active home’ will feel brighter, larger and full of ‘clean air.’ These homes prioritise home ambiance and promote a healthy indoor climate as well as protect the environment.”

To prove the enhanced practicality and functionality of these stylish new build homes, VELUX will launch an official campaign at Grand Designs Live Birmingham, running from the 7th – 9th October at the NEC, to find real families to test drive these ‘real homes’ that aim to harness nature intelligently and include ‘smart’ technology that automatically operates windows and blinds to maintain a comfortable living temperature inside.

At the award-winning consumer home show, hosted by design guru Kevin McCloud, VELUX (also sponsors of the Grand Build section), will officially open its registration for the ‘family of the future’ search. Families at the NEC will be the very first to apply to become test residents of the properties, which were designed by award-winning architects HTA, via a series of casting interviews.

Riddle from VELUX comments: “The CarbonLight Homes are the result of committed teamwork between architects, engineers, researchers and the building industry. Our priority now is to prove that they work in practise, not just theory.”

“Our search for families to test drive these homes will provide us with a chance to further drive consumer awareness of affordable and sustainable future living practises. The test residency would be ideal for anyone in the region currently planning a house move or undertaking a self-build project and in need of a new temporary home base for 12 months.”

Entries via Grand Designs Live and over the coming months will be shortlisted by VELUX with two regular families finally chosen later this year to move in to the 3 and 4 bed new build homes, to monitor and assess the house’s performance and mass market practicalities.

The homes achieve ‘Level 4’ of the Code for Sustainable Homes with aspirations to achieve ‘Level 5’ and are truly a community project. Each home, complete with sustainable garden, reduces CO2 emissions by 70 %, and the remaining 30 % of emissions are offset through local government agreements to improve the energy efficiency of other homes in the area. The house produces its own energy using the solar thermal array coupled with an air source heat pump.

In addition to the homes ‘smart’ temperature controlling technology, lights will also go on and off automatically depending on available daylight and activity in the room, ensuring cuts in energy consumption and household running costs.

Interior furnishings within the CarbonLight Homes will be a mix of new and “upcycled” to further minimise the carbon footprint.

Families interested in applying to be a ‘Family of the Future’ can do this at Grand Designs Live Birmingham between the 7th and 9th October or via, entrants must apply before 31st October 2011. To be eligible, families must:

- Be a two adult / two children family unit or a two adult / one child family unit

- Possess at least a basic understanding of eco practises

- Be prepared to review and diarize their time spent at the CarbonLight Homes

- Be prepared to move in to the property in March 2012 for a complete 12 months period

The VELUX CarbonLight Homes have already received industry praise emerging in 2010 as the winner of the Innovation Award for Building Technology at the prestigious British Homes Awards (BHA). The designs for the two carbon neutral Rothwell homes near Kettering were commended by a panel of judges for its original use of building technology and the exciting way it captures natural daylight and ventilation to minimise energy consumption.

Grand Designs Live Birmingham takes place from 7 - 9 October 2011 at Birmingham’s NEC. It is the UK’s No.1, award-winning consumer show for design and inspiration for your home, based on the hugely popular and successful Channel 4 TV series presented by design guru Kevin McCloud. The live show brings together over 500 exhibitors across six separate sections including Grand Build sponsored by VELUX which will offer FREE expert advice and consultations in a dedicated Ask an Expert Centre for those aspiring self-builders or homeowners looking to take on a home build or renovation project.

There will also be a number of guest speakers who will appear at Grand Theatre to discuss the hottest industry topics and debates with visitors in the Grand Village which will also be packed full of live demos of sustainable build and green technology.

For more information about the show go to

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