Good practice

Low-impact and affordable housing in UK

Low-impact and affordable housing in UK
© Chinnapong, #248183322, 2019, source:
Energy, Materials, Carbon
Secteur (sélectionnez en cliquant):
High cost
Resource savings: Energy:
In contrast to a newbuild home which produces around 50 tonnes of CO2, a home built using straw bale as insulation can store up to 12.25 tonnes of CO2, offering 90 % savings on energy consumption compared to standard constructions; a further 30 % gain from onsite production of renewable energy
Associated cost savings: Energy:
Premises and operation areas:
Product and design
Advancement in applying resource efficiency measures:

Is this the future of sustainable community living?

  • Affordable and ecological co-housing project in the UK pilots a new kind of community ownership scheme
  • Housing is built with ecological materials produced near the construction site (each home aims to be carbon negative)
  • Residents live in a sharing economy which is sustainable and reduces costs

Low Impact Living Affordable Community (LILAC) is the first affordable and ecological co-housing project in the UK. LILAC consists of 20 households and a common area located in West Leeds. Houses are built with locally produced or sourced materials. The community combines private dwellings and shared facilities. Promoting the sharing economy also has a positive impact on the surrounding community.

The houses have been constructed using natural materials, such as panel timber walls insulated with straw bales. The panels are manufactured in “flying factories” as near to the construction site as possible. The straw bales have been locally sourced. This benefits the local economy and reduces emissions. The growth of timber and straw used in the project captures and stores more than 1 080 tonnes of CO2.

Due to the good insulation and airtight panels, the energy consumption of the buildings is 90 % lower than a local house. Each home is aimed to be carbon negative. The Community also produces energy from photovoltaic and solar thermal systems. Using shared facilities reduces both energy use and costs. Residents have a shared car, shared equipment and tools and even shared meals twice a week. This helps to lower the ecological footprint even more.

Residents own the house through a Mutual Home Ownership Scheme, which means that the society obtains the mortgage instead of individuals. Project costs are divided into equity shares owned by members. Members make monthly payments equivalent to 35 % of their net household income. After some deductions for maintenance etc., these payments pay the mortgage. Members can take their equity with them on leaving. Joining the society requires a financial assessment and payment of a deposit.

Key benefits

  • The Community provides an affordable housing option thanks to a new kind of ownership scheme
  • Sustainable construction materials and own-energy production reduce CO2 emissions
  • Sharing facilities provide a community spirit and boosts resource efficiency
  • A positive contribution to the wider community (local construction materials and promoting the sharing economy)

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