Winner/ Sustainability - Greenhouse, Beeston, Leeds

The regeneration of this derelict building – once locally christened “the dustbin of Leeds” – impressed the judges with its wide range of sustainability features and the involvement of local people.

The building was built in Beeston in the 1930s as a council lodging house for about 500 seasonal workers. It later fell into disrepair, being earmarked for demolition after its closure in 1998.

But then developer Citu proposed transforming the building into a low-carbon development. Since the project began in 2007, two floors have been added to the building, which now contains 172 private homes, offices, a gym, a café and gardens.

The judges were impressed by Citu’s ambition to regenerate a building in one of Leeds’ most deprived areas and the number of modern low or zero-carbon technologies used. The development features sustainable materials, efficient insulation, ground source heating and cooling systems, solar panels, wind turbines to power communal lights and lifts, and rainwater and grey water produced in the building is recycled.

In addition to this, the scheme incorporates an energy monitoring system that allows residents to keep an eye on their electricity, water usage and waste via a channel on their televisions.

The system also provides live local bus and train times and information on residents’ journeys, enabling them to contact each other to arrange car sharing. A free bike club is available and there is secure cycle storage for 150 bicycles and showers for office workers. The scheme also provides an electric car club to encourage low-carbon transport.

Citu has also aimed to be sustainable in procurement by using construction waste management plans, Considerate Constructors Scheme accreditation and local contractors where it can.

The judges praised the amount of thought that went into the sustainability of the scheme, right down to recycling facilities, energy efficient lights and white goods and dual flush toilets supplied as standard in homes.

Judge Rob White, partner at NLJ Consulting, noted that the developer has gone to great lengths to minimise waste, including reusing the pieces cut out from the kitchen works as sink covers that double as chopping boards.

In terms of a lasting impact – one of the criteria by which all entries were judged – the panel agreed that the scheme will significantly extend the building’s life and could catalyse an upturn in the surrounding area.

The judges praised the “great and ongoing efforts” made to integrate the existing community. Citu involved local people at the concept stage, paid £250,000 for local landscaping and has continued to work on-site since the scheme’s completion, organising events for locals and offering conference space to local community groups at a discount.

A shared courtyard and an on-site delicatessen selling produce from the site’s gardens and local allotments are all helping build a lasting connection with the local community, Citu says.

On the criterion of replicability, the judges agreed that many of the scheme’s features, such as the heat exchange technology, the real time energy monitoring TV system and the combination of low-and zero-carbon technologies, could be used in other developments.

“Although this building is unique, the model the developer has established can be replicated and it is already looking for new sites to roll this out,” says White.

The scheme is demonstrating value for money: Citu says that homes have been offered to local first time buyers at reduced prices, starting at £59,000, and that the development reduces residents’ energy bills by 65 per cent compared with those for properties without the Greenhouse’s environmental features.

The judges also praised Greenhouse’s financial viability. Choosing a deprived location meant Citu could buy the site at low cost, which it says gave it sufficient margin to pay for renewable technologies, high-quality fixtures and fittings as well as affordable homes.

Despite being developed at the height of the global financial crisis, 90 per cent of the building has been occupied since it opened in October 2010.

Overall, the judges say the project has addressed sustainability in a holistic way and is providing real regeneration benefits to the residents and community in a very deprived area.

Highly Commended

Green Street in the Meadows, Nottingham

This green housing development in a deprived ward close to the centre of Nottingham comprises 38 three and four-bed houses designed to be more efficient and cheaper to run than comparable properties. The judges praised developer Blueprint, which submitted the scheme, for its engagement with local people.

High House Production Park, Purfleet, Essex

This business hub for creative firms, submitted by High House Production Park, was developed in an effort to cut energy use, boost biodiversity and enhance the general environment. The buildings use rainwater harvesting and passive infrared lighting controls to reduce energy consumption. The judges said the scheme improves local environmental quality.


 - Vista, Peterborough, submitted by Morris Homes

 - West Ham Bus Garage, submitted by Transport for London

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