Leading housebuilder Acorn Property Group is excited to announce the official launch of Acorn Green, a sustainability focused vision that encompasses their full development portfolio of current and pipeline sites across the UK. The concept builds on Acorn’s reputation for bespoke design-led development and will further expand their holistic approach to placemaking.
In moving towards achieving a net-zero carbon goal by 2035, Acorn Property Group has appointed Energist as a long-term partner, who will assess the portfolio and future developments from both construction and operational perspectives. Having worked with The Berkeley Group, Taylor Wimpey, Bellway and Redrow Energist has substantial expertise and experience in the construction sector; the specialists are now set to deliver a bespoke roadmap of solutions and ongoing consultancy for Acorn.
With a focus on London, the South West of England and South Wales and led by their ‘different by design’, Acorn currently has 14 live sites and a further 10 in the pipeline, all of which are unique, with many featuring existing or historical buildings. Committed to reusing buildings wherever possible, this bespoke approach to each site presents a greater challenge for Acorn as every one must be assessed individually. The often-used standardised approach to assessment that developers with more homogeneous design and build can deploy is not open to Acorn.
Acorn takes a fabric first approach; working with a site’s existing buildings or listed elements as their USP, they work carefully to make the building’s envelope as efficient as possible with thoughtful architecture going above and beyond industry standards. The resulting developments often far surpass the average Energy Efficiency Assessments and U-values required. These eco-credentials combined with Acorn’s thoughtful placemaking are often cited by buyers as an important draw.
Julian Hampson, Group Design Director and Acorn Green Ambassador for Acorn Property Group says: “As a regeneration specialist, we pride ourselves on working carefully with architects, heritage experts and local communities on how to transform sites whilst incorporating their history into our designs, often by retaining existing buildings. They say the greenest building is the one that already exists, and we embrace that wherever possible; the resulting homes reduce embodied carbon in addition to retaining unique character and a rich sense of place and space, something our buyers really appreciate. This method does mean we need to develop bespoke approaches for each site to meet our green goals without compromising the complex nature of each construction programme.”
With a detailed sustainability initiative expected over the coming months as the data for live sites is analysed, Acorn is working towards staying ahead of the new Future Homes industry requirements. By 2025, the Government has announced that it does not want any new home to be built with fossil fuel heating, such as a natural gas boiler, and any new housing will also have to be future-proofed so that no further energy efficiency retrofit work will be necessary to enable them to become zero-carbon.
Acorn is looking to meet and surpass these requirements ahead of the Government target and hopes to have its first design types and construction programmes for zero-carbon homes by 2030 with the net zero carbon goal to be achieved companywide by 2035.
The first landmark development to champion the Acorn Green kitemark will be Saxonvale, the regeneration of 10-acre brownfield site in Frome, Somerset. A high-quality bespoke residential led mixed-use development; it is set to offer circa 300 new homes, a variety of commercial spaces including offices, live-work units and other commercial space. Saxonvale will create a sustainable living and working community that capitalises on proximity to Frome town centre and the presence of the river with its associated network of footpaths, enables lifestyles for which access by foot and bicycle are central features.
In Acorn’s current portfolio, several key developments incorporate green elements and in places are up to 150% better than current regulations. The leading sites are The Old Printworks in Frome, Brooks Dye Works in St Werburghs, Cubis Bruton in Bruton and Cross Farm in Wedmore. Green elements include Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery systems, solar panels, electric car charging or cabling for future installation of electric car charging points, high performance double or triple glazing, enhanced insulation, LED lights, energy saving appliances and smart meters.
The ecology of each site is also important, relocating protected wildlife, with preservation steps including the installation of bat boxes, hedgerow corridors, bee bricks, tree planting, Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS), hedgehog paths and communal open green space wherever possible.
Over the coming months, Energist is to carry out assessments of all current Acorn developments to better understand the supply chain, build specification and construction process to help identify potential for improving each element’s sustainability.
Julian Hampson, Group Design Director and Acorn Green Ambassador for Acorn Property Group says: “We are delighted to implement our Acorn Green principles across our current development portfolio and pipeline sites. For years we have sought to go above and beyond building regulations and deliver environmentally conscious homes, with each site needing an individual approach. We believe sustainability is not just about carbon emissions but also to the sustainability of place, healthy living, surrounding biodiversity; all this feeds into our placemaking. Launching Acorn Green helps deliver our roadmap towards net zero carbon, but also brings a focus to what we have been doing for years, helping our partners, suppliers, local authorities, and customers understand why being green is so important to us all. We have now partnered with Energist to deliver long-term consultancy for how we as a Group can streamline our green efforts and exceed the upcoming legalisation changes, moving towards our ultimate net zero carbon goal.”
Stuart Clark, Director, Energist UK says: “Energist are incredibly excited to be working closely with Acorn for the foreseeable future, as we see unprecedented change in the world of energy and sustainability. This is change that both Acorn and ourselves are one step ahead of, and our shared desire to explore the cutting-edge of sustainability will create homes that are comfortable to live in, cheap to run, and have minimal impact on the environment. This ethos is energising and will continually drive us to be at the forefront of our industry, offering expert, impartial advice to support Acorn on their journey to net zero carbon.”