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Vicarage hits carbon for six - a Code for Sustainable Homes Level 6 propertyMay 2011

The new vicarage at St John's Church in Wembley has just been completed to the highest level of sustainability. The Vicarage, built by Galliford Try for the London Diocesan Fund in partnership with ASRA Greater London Housing Association as part of a wider development on the site, became one of the few non-prototype or R&D houses to reach the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 6.

The Code for Sustainable Homes is the government's mandatory assessment method for new dwellings. It measures all elements of sustainability from energy use, to water use, materials, ecology, pollution and issues that can affect the health and wellbeing of the occupants. Gaining level six not only shows a high level of sustainability, it also means that the dwelling can be described as Zero Carbon.

The definition of Zero Carbon for Code level 6 in the version used (2009) means that the renewable energy produced on the vicarage covers all the regulated loads plus a calculated allowance for the energy used by appliances and cooking. This produced a vicarage that is somewhat like a small power station. With a roof full of photovoltaic panels and a nice uninterrupted southern view, the vicarage is likely to be an exporter of electricity at periods of time, which will net the vicar an income through the feed-in tariff. Other features include highly insulated walls, a ground source heat pump, low energy lighting and rainwater harvesting. In all, the new vicarage should have drastically reduced the running costs. Vicar of St John's Wembley, Reverend Francis Adu-Boachie commented:

"I am very excited about our new home. We are thankful and privileged to live in the first code 6 vicarage in the London Diocese. It is a life changing building which will affect how we live and manage our energy consumption.

"As a parish we are committed to working with others on environmental issues and this building is both a sign and an example to the community of what can be achieved. There are lots of gadgets which we have to learn to operate and I'm looking forward to trying them all out!"

BSRIA was involved in the project as Code for Sustainable Homes Consultants to the Diocese, working with surveyors Wilson Stephen Associates. BSRIA worked with Wilson Stephen to develop an initial design, which was then further developed by Calford Seaden and Galliford Try. During the construction process BSRIA was employed on a quality control role, checking the progress of the build, making sure that it stayed on track for Code 6.

BSRIA is a licensed Code for Sustainable Homes assessor and also provides airtightness testing and consultancy for new dwellings.

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