Building the highest quality homes with the lowest practical energy demand

Positive Homes Ltd began in 2015, with a mission to build the highest quality homes with the lowest practical energy demand. Taking a ‘blank sheet of paper’ approach, they put together the best commercially available products they could find to create a cost-effective, profitable product.

Every home they have built has achieved at least the highest ‘A’ rating under the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) system. Positive Homes have been recognised as one of the top 50 most innovative companies in the Midlands and have won the ‘Private development of the year’ category at the 2021 Offsite Awards, for a nine-home scheme in Newark using factory-built modules, craned into position in just five days.

Why did you engage with DE-Carbonise?

Martin Valentine, Managing Director at Positive Homes commented: “While our homes are already very low users of energy, we also wanted to better understand how much embodied energy we are using during construction – and how we can reduce that. As a small business, we don’t have the necessary in-house expertise and time to do this work ourselves.”

As a result of this vision, Martin approached the ERDF DE-Carbonise team at the University of Derby to understand where the company currently stood in terms of sustainability and how it could improve.

Dr Bruno Gallotta initially assisted Positive Homes and provided them with the initial view of the company’s carbon emissions and the key actions to take towards their decarbonisation journey. The results identified that the main carbon-intensive category for Positive Homes lay within the materials used in the foundations of the modular houses. These accounted for 21.6% of the company’s emissions.

As additional technical research was required following this initial project, Dr Omar Hamza was pleased to take this work forward with his extensive academic and industrial experience, to provide Positive Homes with the required research support to develop the geotechnical design of the foundation options.

This initial step helped him to quantify the materials required for the construction and subsequently estimate the cumulated carbon footprint over the life cycle stages. Ranking and comparing the design options against the target (set by the RIBA, LETI, and the SCORS paper published in The Structural Engineer) allowed Positive Homes to take an informed decision about the most sustainable design option.

What has been the impact of working with DE-Carbonise?

Following the research, Positive Homes has identified a foundation system that will give them the ability to significantly reduce the amount of concrete used compared to a typical system. They are able to make cost comparisons, alongside the environmental impact of each system, and then make business decisions based on their values.

“While we have previously felt that the system we plan to use would be better, now we have hard evidence to back that instinct up. This is vital if we are to improve the quality of new homes in this country. We will put this research to the test on a scheme we are starting in June 2022” said Martin Valentine.

Next Steps

Martin Valentine commented: “We will continue to refer to the research conclusions when making decisions over future schemes. The research concludes that helical screw piles are the most sustainable foundation system – however, these are rare in this country, struggle to get warranty approval, and are therefore expensive. We will look to change that by identifying like-minded partners to pursue the development of simple, proven, cost-effective systems.”

Quote from Client

“The DE-Carbonise team were very practical, friendly people who were keen to work with us.” 

A row of houses supported by Positive Homes
Logo's for European Union Regional Development Fun, Derby City Council, Derbyshire County Council and Midlands Engine.

Get in contact with us

To find out about current support available for your business in reducing your environmental impact, or your journey to net-zero. Please get in contact with our business gateway team.

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