Day: July 8, 2022

photo of a house made using hempcrete

Green Drinks with PHG Consulting

On the 14 July we are holding our first in-person Green Drinks networking event with PHG Consulting. Not only are PHG members of Cynnal Cymru who share our values, but last year the building became Cardiff’s second Living Wage building whereby all tenants agreed to pay the real Living Wage to their employees and contractors working on site.

This first event will showcase PHG Consulting and sister company, Wellspring Homes sharing their experience of designing sustainable housing projects helping to reduce the emissions associated with materials and construction processes (aka ‘embodied carbon’). It will also be an opportunity to hear about the innovative methods of construction using solid Hempcrete walls. 

PHG Consulting – structural engineering inspired by nature

Founded in 2013, PHG Consulting is a firm of consulting Civil and Structural Engineers based in Cardiff.

Unlike many firms, they seldom advertise, or aggressively market themselves, preferring to allow their work and reputation to speak for itself, as over 85% of their work is repeat business.

They support many local community and environment causes and are passionate about Engineering, Architecture, Sculpture and the Arts, and promote creativity wherever they can. In particular, they support the promotion of engineering in local schools. 

Wellspring Homes

Wellspring Homes are a property developer established to bring low-embodied-carbon homes to both the affordable and private market. Their vision, to pursue construction-innovation which utilises better-than-zero carbon technology to deliver the next generation of living space.

With a desire to provide homes that are beautiful, practical and beneficial to the environment, Wellspring build with solid Hempcrete walls supported by a sustainable timber frame structure. Made from a mixture of hemp and lime, Hempcrete is ‘a revolution in sustainable living’.

As well as being a natural, better-than-zero carbon product, Hempcrete is breathable, insulating and mould proof. Its breathability allows moisture to pass out of the building, virtually eliminating internal condensation and potential mould growth. Its unique properties help to store and release heat from the building’s walls, limiting fluctuations in temperature and reducing energy use, the monolithic structure ensuring a high air tightness performance.

Lynfi Court in Maesteg, Wellsprings first project, is approaching completion. With its use of environmentally friendly materials, internal area of 3000ft2, air source heat pump and underfloor heating, it delivers a luxurious example of cutting edge, eco-living.

With planning permission granted for eight more homes in Neath using the same methods, Wellspring Homes continue to demonstrate what future-living can look like when the commercial housing industry choose to ‘build-different’.

‘Massive Smalls’ – How RC2 are reducing their dependence on fossil fuels one small project at a time.

Heating and renewable energy installers Heatforce Wales helped Llandaff based RC2 (property & regeneration consultancy) in their journey to achieve “net-zero” carbon status.

Spearheaded by business owner Robert Chapman, RC2 have been on a path towards carbon neutrality for many years, and the project with Heatforce is the latest in a series of investments.

“Over several years now, we have continually invested in Bush House (our head office) as part of our goal to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and to become more sustainable,”

said Robert

These investments have included:

  • Installing 14 Solar Panels
  • Improving the fabric of the property to improve energy efficiency and sound insulation
  • The installation of LED lighting throughout both floors
  • The installation of insulation material in the attic space
  • The installation of smart meters 

However, in 2021, Robert decided to completely remove his dependence on fossil fuel gas to heat the property and began looking at alternatives.

“After a considerable amount of research, I decided that an Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP) would be the most efficient means of heating the property without using gas,”

said Robert.

“However as this was not a “new build”, I needed to find a company that could retrofit an ASHP, and so began my journey towards Heatforce”, he continued.

He initially found a national firm that could provide the ASHP, however, it became apparent that while they could indeed install the system, they were unable to connect it to the existing heating system in the property.

All looked lost until a chance meeting with Jake Maddocks, Director of Heatforce, gave hope that the project could remain on track.

“Robert had used Heatforce previously, but was unaware we had moved into renewables,” said Jake. “We both share a passion for the environment, so when he explained the predicament he was in, I knew instinctively it was something we could help with,” he continued.

With extensive experience in transferring both commercial and residential buildings across to renewable forms of energy production, Jake and his team were not only able to install the ASHP but also retrofit it to the existing heating system.

Planning was submitted by Robert at the end of July 2021 and within a month, the project was given the green light. Fortunately, the lockdown meant no staff were on-site, so the Heatforce team were able to move quickly.

“We started by upgrading the existing heating infrastructure (installing new pipes and replacing the old single radiators with double radiators) and then installed the ASHP, before connecting it all together,” said Jake.

Once switched on, the system worked perfectly.

Robert was able to remove his dependence on gas to heat the property and thanks to the system installed, he gets 3.86 watts of energy for every 1 watt used.

More importantly, the project fits in with his ethos of “Massive Small.”

‘‘Massive Small responds to the frustration of failed grand plans and vast rollouts,” said Robert, “and builds on the success of distributed ‘small’ projects that model new solutions to old problems. A collection of small projects or small initiatives collectively can have a massive impact’’. 

What is more, the installation has taken Bush House from an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) rating of D to a B – a huge jump.

“If more and more businesses realised the savings they can make from replacing fossil fuels with renewables,” said Robert, “not only would they be better off financially, but using the ethos of Massive Small, we could make huge improvements to the environment at the same time.”

A more detailed case study document is available upon request: robert@rchapmanandco.com

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