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Oyster Reach: the UK’s first AA-rated homes


Five two-bed apartments in Whistable are the first homes in the UK to achieve an AA energy efficiency rating under DECC’s Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP).

While you might expect the luxury of a sea view to cost a small fortune, the 97% energy efficiency level of the homes in the three-storey Oyster Reach development, most of which face the sea, means they’ll cost just £175 per year to power. The kickbacks for generating your own solar electricity could shave your bills down to the cost of a bag of chips on the seafront (ish).

On top of that, at just under £400k these buildings are going for roughly the same price as similar homes in the area that lack environmental credentials – and will cost a lot more to power.

This is Masonry Frame Systems’ first foray into solar technology; the specialist constructor wanted its Oyster Reach development to be a unique example of best practice. Newform Energy, a company making waves in the UK with its PV-T technology (see our earlier article on its Solar House), was selected as the supplier.

How it works

PV-T systems – or photovoltaic thermal hybrid solar collectors (a bit of a mouthful, we know) – convert solar radiation into thermal and electrical energy. They’re cheaper and take up around 35% less roof space than solar and thermal panels.

The PV cells create electricity while the thermal collectors capture remaining energy and remove waste heat from the panel. The heat is then conducted through a series of pipes and into an energy store, cooling the panels and allowing them to produce around 15% more electricity per year.

‘Newform Energy prides itself on its pioneering development of cutting edge solar technology to help ensure our ever increasing demand on energy can be met by renewable resources. By working closely with our trade partners, together we can help reduce the UK’s dependency on energy from unsustainable and increasingly expensive sources.’

Keith Willett, Managing Director, Newform Energy

The peak output is 200/450 watts of electrical/thermal, respectively. When correctly installed, the collector will produce around 15% more electricity than conventional PV and, when the heat pump is running, the electrical output may increase by up to 25% under certain weather conditions. All Oyster Reach’s hot water requirements are met safely, reliably and carbon neutrally.

As a result, the development has achieved the UK’s first ‘AA’ rating under the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP), which calculates much energy a home will consume and how much CO2 will be emitted in order for a set level of comfort to be maintained.


Oyster Reach has also been awarded an ‘A’ EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) for both energy efficiency and carbon emissions, where previously a B+ was considered the highest possible achievement.

Built to Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, the development has embraced the principles of PassivHaus; its triple glazed widows achieve a 0.93 level of airtightness, which is substantially lower than the industry average of 3.5 and the lowest the builder, Masonry Frame Systems, has ever achieved.

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