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It’s green up north

Living spaces with sustainable tech and efficient design can slash your carbon footprint
It's green up north

This article first appeared in our Earth Day special issue of My Green Pod Magazine, distributed with The Guardian on 22 April 2021. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

Citu has been building and selling sustainable homes across Yorkshire for over a decade.

Its two current projects, the Climate Innovation District in Leeds (main image) and Little Kelham in Sheffield, are based on the sustainable developer’s new model for low-carbon and mixed-use places for anyone looking for a healthy place to live.

Little Kelham, which comprises 153 homes, 6,500 ft2 of retail and 16,000ft2 of workplaces, is now 90% complete, sold and occupied, with a handful of townhouses still remaining. Citu will launch a new neighbouring site this summer.

When complete, the Climate Innovation District will consist of 850 houses, apartments, workplaces, retail and even a new multi-generational building which incorporates a primary school, care home and apartments in one building. On the North Bank of the district there is already a growing community of over 90 people.

Citu has also located ‘The Place’, its timber-frame manufacturing facility and new office, in the heart of the district. The Place will offer Yorkshire a new space to meet, learn and discuss our responsibilities for the future and its climate.

A breath of fresh air

Citu’s carbon reduction success starts with the developer’s own timber-frame system. Rather than using carbon-intensive materials like steel or concrete, which require huge amounts of energy to make, Citu builds homes from sustainably sourced timber – to exacting standards – in its dedicated manufacturing facility. This allows a level of precision that couldn’t be achieved with a traditional on-site build.

Little Kelham in Sheffield
Little Kelham in Sheffield

With that precision comes the ability to create a home with industry-leading levels of airtightness, which prevents heat loss through draughts.

That doesn’t mean the homes lack fresh air – in fact, a mechanical ventilation heat recovery (MVHR) system is designed into each house, bringing a constant flow of fresh air while removing stale air.

When it is cold outside the system passes the air through a heat exchanger to warm the incoming fresh air using the heat of the outgoing air. This helps to keep the homes warm in winter.

Slashing CO2 emissions

The average house with a gas boiler emits two tonnes of CO2 per year – about a third of the average person’s carbon footprint. Citu Homes are so efficient that they don’t need central heating and so don’t require a polluting gas boiler.

As well as the MVHR system, Citu Homes all have triple-glazed windows, incredibly high standards of insulation and smart home controls to reduce your energy needs. The features are all in line with Passivhaus principles, which were designed to create extremely efficient, low-energy homes.

Renewable energy generation has also been included, with rooftop solar panels across the site all feeding into a site-wide micro-grid. Everyone on the site benefits from the clean electricity when the sun is shining.

Working from home?

Citu Places have been carefully designed to prioritise people over cars, creating low-traffic, walkable neighbourhoods in the centre of Leeds and Sheffield where all key amenities are within a 15-minute walking distance. In addition to the convenience factor, this is another way residents’ carbon footprints will be slashed.

Citu says that creating progressive, bold places with sustainable homes will never be about compromise, but rather about using great design to unlock new possibilities.

You won’t need to sacrifice space or light with these properties; the huge windows and airy open-plan designs create beautiful spaces that make the most of natural amenities like the excellent river views.

The houses and apartments have been very popular with buyers. New residents have recently moved up from London to benefit from being able to work from home while being just two hours from London on the train.

With both the Leeds and Sheffield sites within easy walking distance of each city’s main train station, dropping into the London office will be easy.

If you’re thinking of making your next move somewhere greener, consider paying one of Citu’s show homes a visit.

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