Scotland's Housing Expo


Project Lead

Lori McEIroy, Architecture and Design Scotland

Building type, sector and stage
Domestic, social rented, in-use performance, London

Timber Construction, Passive Solar, Biomass, Sunspace, Fabric First

At the beginning of a two year monitoring programme

The Social Housing plots at Scotland's Housing Expo 2010 form part of a larger project of 50 houses in Inverness that showcased innovative ideas in housing design for the 21st Century in response to government policy and legislation to meet energy, emissions and climate change targets. The project and expo put the Highlands on the national and international stage in showcasing innovative modern low energy housing designs and stimulating the wider use of sustainable local timber and other Highland materials.
Scotland's Housing Expo was the first event of its kind in Scotland. It showcases over 50 house designs of the future - which people from all backgrounds, ages and income brackets can afford. It aims to make good design and sustainable features commonplace in every home.

Targets (In this study 4 plots are being examined)
1. Plot 3: The Shed House (terrace of 3 No. 4-bed 2 storey houses) for Cairn HA. Simple/adaptable floor plan, well daylit using known construction systems - designed to encourage the view that good design need not be radical or expensive. Lightweight timber cladding on a standard 140mm timber frame with trussed rafters and a Concrete slab foundation. The houses have been designed using traditional timber frame technology. As well as providing scope for well- insulated, thermally efficient homes, timber frame offers a local ‘buildability'. The frames were pre-fabricated off site locally and transportation of building parts was short. The external envelope of the buildings, is designed for minimal maintenance.
Predicted annual running cost for heating: £213, energy usage (heating only) in kWh/m2 119 kWh/m²

2. Plot 4.2: The Healthy House (2 units: semi detached 2 storey houses, 3 bedroom) for Cairn HA. Open plan living/ well daylit environment / interaction between public areas across both floors Timber-frame, with timber cladding externally. By adopting a common sense approach, avoiding the use of maintenance and energy hungry ‘eco clichés', the scheme benefits from natural ventilation, passive solar gain and increased levels of insulation. The original concept provided a holistic approach to material choices to provide a healthy living environment; especially regarding the internal finishes such as natural clay paints, low toxicity carpets and natural stains/paints within a formaldehyde free construction.Predicted annual running cost for heating: £119, energy usage (heating only) in kWh/m2 119 kWh/m²

3. Plot 4.3-Lios Gorm (3 bed, 2 storey house; upper floor flat, 1 bed; fully accessible flat at ground floor flat, 1 bed) for Albyn HS. Pragmatic sustainability achieved by off-site construction and pre-fabricated central service cores, built with Scottish timber. Timber framed closed panel wall, floor and roof cassettes with load bearing service cores. The design of Lios Gorm utilises modern methods of construction to minimise embodied energy and maximise quality. The roof, wall and floor cassettes were all manufactured under factory conditions and the pre-fabricated enhanced service cores designed to incorporate all of the electrical, water and ventilation systems. Off site construction minimises material and labour transportation, minimises waste, utilises efficient stock management techniques, maximises quality and minimises delays due to adverse weather. The houses were designed to maximise solar gain from the south (framed construction with south west facing glazed infill) and minimise heat loss to the north (thick, well insulated walls with carefully selected to window penetrations). Predicted annual running cost for heating: £47-52, energy usage (heating only) in kWh/m2 39-42 kWh/m².

4. Plot 8: The Apartments: Balvonie Square IV2 6GA (3 storey black of 6 no. 2-bedroom flats). Shared ownership with Albyn HS.. Structural timber frame with masonry construction on steel frame to sunspace and stairway. The Apartments are orientated to maximise solar benefits, both in terms of natural daylighting into the primary living spaces and passive solar gain, harnessed through the integral ‘solar buffer space'. Collecting the sun's heat during the day, absorbing it in the thermal mass of the heavy masonry construction, and releasing the warmth into The Apartments at night. The fenestration patterns assist natural ventilation. The main living areas are predominantly open-plan to increase efficiency of space heating and flexibility of use. The thermal envelope far exceeds the current Building Standards. All heating and hot water demands for the six apartments is provided through an independent biomass boiler located within the curtilage of the plot. Predicted annual running cost for heating: £153-169, energy usage (heating only) in kWh/m2 99-113 kWh/m². 

Tenants took occupation in January 2011. Proposed measures to reduce energy consumption whilst maintaining a high quality environmental will be examined in this study over a 2 year period.

The buildings are being evaluated by the Mackintosh Environmental Architecture Research Unit (MEARU, contact The study will examine the difference in energy and environmental performance between the different dwelling and construction types, and assess the overall performance and benefits of a passive approach in a building of this type of tenure.