Zero worries

Philippa Stockley looks at exciting new zero-carbon family kit homes you can buy off-the-peg from £122,000
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RuralZED homes
RuralZED homes are carbon-neutral, using timber frames and high-tech energy-saving ideas. They are also stamp-duty-free
Future homes — what will they look like? You can find out at Ecobuild 2008 at Earls Court Exhibition Centre, where a carbon-neutral kit home using state-of-the-art insulation and design is on show. The architect is Bill Dunster, famous for pioneering the BedZED eco-community in Sutton. “Everyone says the zero-carbon house is impossible. That’s absolute rubbish,” scoffs Dunster.

Called RuralZED, the new house meets Code 6 of the Government’s energy rule. Code 6 is the gold star and means carbon neutral. Houses like this are also stamp-duty-free. So, the cost of installing energy-saving devices will be recouped by tax-relief and year-on-year savings.

The house is a hi-tech take on a traditional frame building. It uses medieval post-and-beam construction, sunk into a strip-concrete foundation. Other features include “eco-concrete” beams. Some houses have conservatories to catch passive solar energy.

They are clad in Thermowood (heat-treated wood) and, if you pay more, you can have British chestnut. But, what are those twisty vents on top? Passive heat-generating wind cowls that harness stale air and turn it into heat. Clever stuff.

RuralZED uses medieval-style post-and-beam construction
RuralZED uses medieval-style post-and-beam construction
RuralZed has been developed by a consortium of architects and developers committed to achieving cheap, desirable housing that will not increase global warming.

These houses are smart and affordable. Using “modern methods of construction” they can be prepared off-site for fast building and could help provide the extra houses the Government says we need.

They can be detached, semi-detached or in a terrace of up to six. A 1,070sq ft house costs £122,662; about £150,000 if you need it built. There is also a budget version at about £90,000.

Ecobuild 2008 is at Earls Court Exhibition Centre, Warwick Road, SW5 on Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 February. Register for free tickets at

To order a RuralZED, call 020 8404 1380.

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