The aim is to show how low-carbon homes can be built cheaply and quickly using waste including surplus material from building sites – the construction industry discards 20 per cent of everything it uses, the equivalent of scrapping one in five houses built.
The scheme is backed by Brighton and Hove City Council, The Mears Group (the UK social housing repairs and maintenance provider), City College Brighton and Hove, a host of private companies and the internet-based reuse organisation FREEGLE UK. The organisation’s Cat Fletcher said: “There really isn’t such a thing as rubbish, it’s just stuff in the wrong place.”
Baker-Brown said: “The building is literally locking in waste rather having it burnt, buried into landfill sites or dumped in the ocean.
“This is a ‘live' research project and permanent new design workshop focused on sustainable development designed with the help of undergraduate students. It was built by apprentices from The Mears Group (the UK social housing repairs and maintenance provider), students from City College Brighton & Hove and the university’s Faculty of Arts as well as volunteers. In all over 250 students helped on site over.
“The project was only made possible by the generous support of volunteers, partners and sponsors.” (See the full list below).
Baker-Brown said: “The House is the first permanent building in the UK to be constructed from waste, surplus material and discarded plastic gathered from the construction industry, other industries and our homes. The idea, developed with FREEGLE UK, is to test the performance of these undervalued resources over the next few years; the university’s Faculty of Science and Engineering has put sensors in the external walls to monitor their performance.”
Students, apprentices, local builders and school children have been involved with the construction and there are plans to train students and apprentices around emerging green industries.
Kevin McCloud endorsed the project: “I'm very pleased that the University of Brighton is committed to exploring new low-carbon methods of building. It's exciting to think that the campus could have its own practical demonstration building and I'm delighted to be connected to the university through this innovative piece of construction.”
The project involves the city council, City College Brighton and Hove, the Mears Group, South Downs Solar, which is providing solar panels, Rationel Windows and Doors (UK), and Work This Way, the charity and social enterprise company providing training and employment opportunities for prison inmates.
The house will showcase new technologies and will continue to be retrofitted, allowing designers and students to test their windows, solar panels, insulation and construction materials.
David Pendegrass, Project Manager with Mears, said: “We are testing the toothbrushes and other thrown away items for their insulation qualities. We’re also testing chalk – a lorry-load was heading for a landfill site but we diverted it here, mixed it with water, compacted it and, so far, it has proved a great insulating material.
“The Waste House is a unique project which provides a once-in-a-life-time opportunity for our apprentices to be at the forefront of sustainable development and will create a legacy for future generations.”
Several departments from City College Brighton and Hove’s Building Trades area have been involved in the project, covering skills such as bricklaying, carpentry, electrical, plumbing and painting and decorating.
Now completed, the house will be used as an exhibition and workshop space by local community groups and as the university's headquarters for sustainable design.
The house is the first A* energy-efficient rated building in the UK made almost entirely from waste. New energy-saving devices and construction methods will be added to it as new breakthroughs are discovered. The effectiveness of solar panels and thermal insulation will be monitored by university students from the School of Environment and Technology and Faculty of Arts architecture students have been involved in the construction process. Interior architecture students have advised on internal design.
Digital media will be used as part of the learning process. A dedicated Waste House website is preserving all aspects of the project while apps and QR (Quick Response) codes will be developed to inform people about how each area of the house was constructed.
Baker-Brown added: “This research will inform developments in the construction industry and in the design of houses of the future, and the building will have its own street entrance – putting the house at the heart of the community.
“Reusing waste saves money for big and small businesses and it relieves pressure on our planet. There really is no such thing as waste or surplus material and reusing it saves the environment by reducing the need to mine so much raw material in the first place.
“This is good news for all industries that make things because the cost of raw material and the price of throwing things away is sky-rocketing. Businesses can’t afford to keep throwing stuff away and those who start reusing waste will be more likely to survive in the ever-tougher commercial marketplace.”
Professor Julian Crampton, the university’s Vice-Chancellor, said: “This is an exciting project that we hope will become an example for sustainable construction around the UK and one that will produce far-reaching benefits for the university and the community as a whole."
Baker-Brown said: “The design and construction of The Brighton Waste House was only made possible because of the hard work of 253 students, apprentices and volunteers as well as the generous support of partners and sponsors”
He thanked: The Mears Group, City College Brighton & Hove, Elliotts, Rational Windows (UK), South Downs Solar, Travis Perkins, Kingspan, City Electrical Factors (Brighton), Vent-Axia Group Ltd, AAC Waterproofing Ltd, Wolseley, AM Fire & Security, HSS Hire, Austin Cradles, Velux, University of Brighton’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, CNC Ltd, Sovereign Alarms Ltd, Chalmers & Co, Scion, Ejot UK Ltd, Lindner Group, The Wood Store Brighton, Willmott Dixon, Jewson, Buildbase, Speedy Hire, Hartley Quinn Wilson, Bay Media Ltd, Chandlers Building Supplies, Dupont Building Solutions, BD Workshop Ltd, Lightfoot LED, Brighton Energy Services, Newlife Paints.