Work has started on site to create ‘Citu Works’; a new manufacturing facility located on a 3.5-acre brownfield site in Leeds city centre. The state-of-the-art plant will produce the ‘Citu House’; which is the product of a focused innovation grant from the Government through Innovate UK in collaboration with Leeds Beckett University.
The new system is in the final stages of research and development and uses an energy efficient timber frame that is designed to perform to the highest environmental standards.
Citu, which has an ambition to accelerate the development of zero carbon buildings and neighbourhoods, will initially use the factory to serve demand from its own developments.
The 60,000 sq. ft. facility has the capacity to produce up to 750 low-carbon homes each year.
The developer is investing £3m into the new facility, in addition to a £400,000 grant from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
A spokesman said: “Citu Works will allow every element of the environmentally-friendly envelope to be designed and made in controlled conditions and under cover, meaning construction will not be hampered by adverse weather conditions. This reduces production times and costs; enabling high-quality, low energy and affordable homes to be manufactured with precision on an assembly line and then installed on site.
“Citu’s long-term aim is to accelerate the take-up of advanced building technology to help the industry move away from a process where it is estimated that around half of the resources going into building a typical house is waste; not just in terms of physical materials but also labour and inventory waste.
“The new home system removes many of the thermal bridges and opportunities for air leakage often found in domestic homes; making them airtight and thermally efficient, and ultimately meaning that heating bills and carbon emissions are a fraction of those of a conventional property.”
Timber frame homes are produced in a large number of factories across Germany and Scandinavia.
Citu is one of the first property developers in the UK to develop their own technology.
Chris Thompson, the managing director and founder of Citu, said: “Factory-built homes represent the future of house building in the UK. I’ve seen the finished product, as well as the manufacturing process, first-hand in Europe and we are excited to be one of the first to introduce the technology to the UK. This technique means less waste and less carbon emissions produced in the building process so, not only does it offer buyers an opportunity to live a low-carbon lifestyle, it reduces our carbon footprint as a developer.”
Chris Gorse, Professor of Construction and Project Management and Director of Leeds Sustainability Institute at Leeds Beckett University: “The innovation in the advanced manufacturing process that Chris Thompson and his team have developed is visionary. Work in the area is creating local employment opportunities and benefitting from the expertise in low carbon engineering that exists within the region. Leeds Beckett University are very pleased to be working with Citu, the work aligns very well with the Government’s agenda to build a million new high quality homes by 2020, this is a major step forward in providing energy efficient housing.”
Roger Marsh, chairman of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said: “This funding, from our business grants programme, has ensured Citu have been able to go ahead and establish their new innovative manufacturing base in the Leeds City Region. We are committed to creating more, better quality housing for the people who live and work in the region and this new energy efficient approach will take us a step closer to achieving our ambition of a zero carbon economy.”