Blog: SECBE Awards 2023 Finalist Ultra-low energy, zero-operational carbon, social-rented homes by ZED PODS

17 April 2023

Sustainability sponsored by Faithful + Gould

Ultra-low energy, zero-operational carbon, social-rented homes  (submitted by ZED PODS Limited)

Sustainability Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2023 finalist

ZED PODS (ZP) is an offsite modular housing company delivering zero operational carbon homes. ZP have reduced the user carbon emissions from our homes so that they are a net exporter of energy. Working in partnership with Ashford Council, has designed 23 high-quality, highly energy-efficient, social-rented modular homes above a public car park located in Flood Zone 3A area. These ultra-low energy flats will house vulnerable homeless households and will be the South-East Region’s first of its kind zero-operational carbon homes above a car park in Flood Zone 3A area overcoming several planning and construction barriers like flood risks and biodiversity safeguarding measures.

The project is a pioneering, environmental and socially focused development, comprising of 13 one-bed, 9 two-bed and 1 three-bed dwellings with latest enhanced energy-efficient measures which includes heat pumps, solar panels, triple glazing so that the residents can enjoy ultra-low energy bills. ZP was chosen by the client based on superior energy performance measures and help them achieve ultra-low carbon and ultra-low energy consumption – a complete sustainable development.

ZP was chosen by the client based on superior energy performance measures and help them achieve ultra-low carbon and ultra-low energy consumption – a complete sustainable development. The system is composed of build ups that are highly insulated, airtight, details that minimise thermal bridging and designed to optimise internal daylighting resulting in significantly reduced energy consumption over traditional build. Combined with renewable on-site technologies such as mechanical ventilation, air source heat pumps with a total of 126 (45.36 kWp) roof-mounted PV Panels generate more energy than is consumed by the home over the course of the year. The scheme has been designed to achieve SAP ratings of over 100.

ZP are using Building Information System (BIM) protocols, another first for the borough, for early visualization of proposed designs, allowing for analysis of a design’s impact on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. By providing virtual simulations of how proposed construction will perform under various environmental conditions, helping designers identify areas where efficiency improvements can be made. Following the protocols allows ZP in identifying areas in which fewer resources could be used, thus reducing waste and emissions. These modules, manufactured in our factory in Peterborough, will be completed up to 90% completed following our “zero-waste to landfill” policy at factory-gate. This will minimise construction traffics, pollution, disruption and reduced carbon footprints.

This is an exemplar sustainable construction with savings of 1,231 Tonnes of Carbon emissions over 30 years. It will also save 554kl of water every year (savings over baseline).  Over the lifetime of the project, the scheme will have no net carbon footprint and will offset both the carbon footprint of the original construction, plus the annual maintenance and annual energy needed to run the homes.

These dual-aspect apartments will not only house homeless households and business opportunities for local supply chain, but also £5.3m cost savings to the local authority. This exemplar scheme demonstrates how to unlock brownfield sites in Flood Zones areas and futureproof buildings facing flood risks due to rising sea level.

Net zero not only benefits the planet and helps abate climate change but they reduce ongoing costs for the occupants. Given our specialism in zero-carbon social homes this is a critical benefit for end user who are on low-income households. This project demonstrates that leading net zero brings a raft of benefits which help drive consumer choice in selecting low-carbon options where they are made available.

Key achievements:

  • This project is an exemplar modular housing development showing the flexibility of ZED PODS’ podium-based build system in Flood Zone 3A areas, demonstrating how an innovative solution can create a community for people, vulnerable to homelessness, can live securely and comfortably.

  • Pioneering zero-operational carbon development: The scheme has been designed to achieve SAP ratings of over 100. Each house uses solar panels to generate renewable electricity, quiet running heat pumps, controlled ventilation to recover usable heat, triple glazing and LED lighting.

  • Henwood car park is an exemplar project to be delivered using Council specific BIM protocol which is developed over and above BIM level 2 - ISO 19650. BIM standard is conceptualised by ABC and adopted for all council projects. ZED PODS experience in delivered modular projects using BIM software as standard goes hand in hand and compliment councils’ BIM protocol.

Client: Ashford Borough Council

Project Partners: ZED PODS, Dragon Heart Homes, DHA Planning

Learn more about ZED PODS:



Find out who wins at the Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2023 Ceremony on Thurs 29th June 2023.

About the Sustainability Award (sponsored by Faithful+Gould): 

Sustainable construction aims to meet present day needs for housing, working environments and infrastructure without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs in times to come. It incorporates elements of economic efficiency, environmental performance and social responsibility – and contributes to the greatest extent when architectural quality, technical innovation and transferability are included.  More info.

>> Find out more about the other Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2023 finalists here

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