A plan for a unique net zero emissions home in which all the carbon involved in creating the building will be offset on site over 50 years has been welcomed by environmentalists.
It is hoped the innovative design for the property in Middleton Tyas will serve as a test bed for numerous construction, renewable energy and on-site offsetting technologies if approved by North Yorkshire Council, which has backed a plan for the region to become carbon negative by 2040 and become a leader in green technologies.
Planning papers lodged with the authority state the proposed development, designed by Richmond-based sustainable design expert Timothy David Crawshaw, aims to be the first net zero property of its kind in the region, rather than seeking to just minimise energy consumption when lived in.
The documents state while many developments can claim net zero emissions in operation the challenge remains to design buildings and landscapes that seek to achieve net zero emissions that count the emissions of producing and transporting the building materials and construction.
The proposals outline how the development would achieve a target of 300kg of emissions of embodied energy, offset over a period of 50 years through an on-site carbon capture garden.
The papers state: “As buildings become more efficient in use the challenge remains that the embodied energy will become more significant. With around 40 per cent of all global emissions coming from building construction and use, nine per cent of these are in construction.
“Within Richmondshire whilst there may be energy efficient buildings there are none that would seek to demonstrate a truly net zero and whole if costing approach as advocated by the United Nations.”
The building and landscaping has been designed to intercept surface water run-off and use this resource for domestic purposes as appropriate.
The papers state the building would be formed using a locally sourced and sustainable green oak frame, the walls would be highly insulated using straw bales and the foundations would be “minimal”.
The rainwater diverted to storage tanks will be used for toilet flushing, vehicle washing and garden irrigation and will be diverted via a filtration and purification system for clothes washing.
The application states: “Making use of an underused site that is previously developed land, the dwelling will not only be an exemplar of sustainable design and construction but will also make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the historic village of Middleton Tyas.”
Leader of the Green Party group on the authority, Councillor Andy Brown said: “It is brilliant to see innovative designs like this that are genuinely sustainable. Planners need to take an imaginative approach to new designs and ensure there are exemplar projects that others can follow.”
A similar scheme on the same site, which is outside the council’s agreed development limit for the village, was refused by Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee in 2020, partly due to the impact it would have on open countryside.
However, in an attempt to overcome the concerns, the developers submitted the proposal to the Design Review Panel, a group of independent, multi-disciplinary construction professionals for examination.
The panel welcomed the aspiration to create a building that “would result in learning outcomes to try and help improve the design of rural housing more generally and set an example for other smaller scale residential edge of settlement developments”.
The plans have received significant support from residents of the village, some of whom have expressed concern over the numerous large-scale developments proposed at nearby Scotch Corner.
Backing the previous similar scheme, one resident wrote: “It has been very well thought through and the final plans are very sustainable and will benefit the surrounding area. This is precisely the sort of development the planners should be encouraging in this environmentally-conscious world we are living in.”