A new housing scheme in Cornwall is set to be one of the greenest residential projects of its kind in the UK after being designed to achieve net zero whole life carbon emissions.

Developer Treveth’s 185-home Gwel Bassett development at Tolgus near Redruth is believed to be one of the largest volume estate housing projects in the UK to achieve net zero at the design stage.

This includes embodied carbon, which is the energy needed to build and maintain the homes, and operational carbon, which is the energy needed to run them, resulting in a ‘whole life’ net zero rating.

Treveth is aiming to break the mould when it comes to volume housebuilding and show that net zero homes can be built at scale. It has developed a Housing Design and Decarbonisation Manual and its work towards net zero was nominated in the Carbon Neutral category of this year’s Cornwall Sustainability Awards.

Treveth is a partnership company set up by Cornwall Council to deliver new homes and commercial development to benefit people who live and work in Cornwall. It aims to have achieved net zero whole life carbon across its entire estate by its target of 2030.

The official start on site of Gwel Bassett was marked with a recent groundbreaking event attended by the Treveth team with members of Cornwall Council and contractors Vistry Partnerships.

Treveth MD Tim Mulholland said: “Achieving net zero in design is a fantastic achievement for a scheme of this size and puts Treveth well ahead of the volume housing sector. We want to show the industry what’s possible. This isn’t about one-offs and exemplar schemes, this is about making net zero mainstream in the battle against climate change and providing high quality energy efficient homes for local people.”

Gwel Bassett includes 90 new homes for private rent on three-year tenancies as standard, to address a shortage of long-term rental properties in Cornwall. A further 73 will be offered as affordable homes, including 47 affordable rented and 26 shared ownership homes, and 22 homes will be for sale.

To achieve net zero at the design stage, Treveth has worked hard to design carbon out of its new homes. Measures include:

  • Using timber frames from certified sustainable sources
  • Using Cornish air-cured concrete blocks made with secondary aggregate
  • No fossil fuel heating
  • Using renewable energy sources as standard like air source heat pumps and solar panels
  • Using low energy LED lighting throughout
  • Only installing white goods that are A-rated or above
  • Using more insulation in floors, walls and roofs

Treveth is also creating biodiverse landscapes with green public spaces, ‘edible planting’ and allotments for growing food, and it has committed to provide a bird box, bat box and a bee brick for every two houses it builds at Gwel Bassett.