Jenny Rathbone, AM for Cardiff Central, has called on the Welsh Government to make Wales a world leader for building zero carbon housing.
Leading a debate in the Senedd entitled 21st Century Homes: The case for zero-carbon housing, the Labour Assembly Member spoke about the ground breaking SOLCER house, designed and built by Cardiff University’s Welsh School of Architecture as part of the Low Carbon Research Institute (LCRI) programme.
The house uses locally sourced materials, and an energy efficient design including low carbon cement manufactured on site powered by an array of solar panels. The roof is made of photo-voltaic solar panels and the south facing wall includes heat generating panels designed in collaboration with Tata Steel, Pilkington Glass and BASM. The 3 bedroom houses often generates more energy than an average family would need and the lithium batteries in the roof space would enable excess energy to be sold to the grid at premium price when there is maximum demand on the system. As it costs less than £1000 per square metre and took just 16 weeks to build, the design is also within budget for any social housing.
Speaking in the Senedd about this Made In Wales design, Jenny said “If this becomes the default design for new housing, it also gives a boost to the Welsh economy, as people will spend less on energy bills. If we lead the way on restoring zero carbon obligations, it enables Welsh businesses to get tooled up and ahead of the game as European directives require all new buildings across Europe to be carbon neutral by the end of 2020.”
Jenny visited the SOLCER house in Bridgend with other member of the Assembly. The Environment and Sustainability Committee is conducting an enquiry into a Smarter Energy Future for Wales.
In the Plenary debate Jenny said “The success of this Made-In-Wales venture, using the best of Welsh industry, provides us with an obvious solution to some of our climate change obligations and the Welsh Labour Government’s desire to combat fuel poverty. We know that the task facing us in Wales is massive, with over a third of a million households living in fuel poverty. We have the oldest housing stock compared with other parts of the UK, as well as huge demand for more housing.”
In response, Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant said that the SOLCER house is “a Welsh solution to a global problem.” He added “I think we could build on that. We need to build at scale to truly understand what this means in terms of construction costs and, crucially, householder experience and expectation.”