Our Project Story

Rhiw Cefn Gwlad

Bridgend, UK


Wales’ first energy positive housing development.

Surpassing Net Zero Carbon.
Year-round efficiency and comfort.

Challenge accepted.

Rhiw Cefn Gwlad Housing is a pioneering residential development. Supported and part funded by the Welsh Government’s Innovative Homes Programme, 14 homes have been created that aim to deliver the first energy-positive social housing scheme in Wales.

A 12-month intensive monitoring programme is well underway and the results will help support future developments, making energy reliant homes a thing of the past.

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We hope this development in Bridgend will lead the way for more future homes to be built this way.
Shayne Hembrow, Deputy Chief Executive at WWH.

Energy and ambition.

We needed to prove that Rhiw Cefn Gwlad’s energy positive achievement wasn’t just a theory but could be achieved in reality. For the homes to be comfortable, healthy, highly efficient and affordable, multiple interlinked innovative solutions were needed. We knew we needed to deliver technical systems that worked in harmony with each other, while also creating an accessible and understandable human-centred way of using them.

Attention to detail.

To bring the scheme to life, we worked to minimise the performance gap between the design expectations and the real-world output. To make this possible, we knew designing for compliance was not enough. Using microscopic investigation and energy modelling, we reviewed the design stages to find the areas that could be optimised. We’re also ensuring that 12 months of heavy monitoring will be conducted, allowing us to further improve the design in light of how the houses run in reality, and to – ultimately – achieve the ambitious energy-positive target.
Technical impact

Positive performance.

To be truly energy-positive, the homes have to generate more energy than they need, putting the excess back in to the national grid. As such, our specialised Performance team lead the project, bringing their expertise in finding the best ways of running buildings in reality. Every home has an array of innovative engineering systems that are optimised to be as efficient as possible: from exhaust air heat pumps integrated with mechanical ventilation, to large solar photovoltaic roof systems that are coupled with a Tesla battery system.
Human impact

12 month's on...

Together, the 14 homes have put over 27,000 kw/h back into the grid. This is roughly the total yearly electricity use for around 9 average-use homes in the UK. Most residents have bills that of around £25 a month on average and some residents should actually be paid money in 2022! The reduction in monthly spend, paired with the attention given to health and wellbeing has created truly contemporary homes where people can thrive, knowing they’re having a positive impact on the planet.
An update

All about the residents.

Most important to this project was not only the carbon-positive design, but the impact this could have on the low-income residents who occupy the houses. A huge majority of residents have rated their homes a maximum 10/10 and comments such as: ‘love living here’, ‘can’t think of anything to improve’, ‘love the layout’, and ‘super warm’. As energy prices elsewhere continue to rise, this project proves that a better answer is out there, and a planet-and-pocket friendly result can be achieved for people who need it most.
We have blended energy efficiency and renewable technologies, showcasing the power of climate-conscious and human-centred design.
Key Figures
14 homes
12 month monitoring programme
90% reduction in bills

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This project shows that it is possible to build high quality, truly sustainable homes that are accessible for all.
John Lloyd, Associate, Hoare Lea.