Springfield Meadows

Greencore Construction aims to be a catalyst for sustainable change in the construction industry. At Springfield Meadows, they built a multi-award-winning development of 25 climate-positive homes.

Our story

by Greencore Construction

The construction of an average home creates around 50 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Then a typical house emits a further 5 tonnes of CO2 every year. This means a house built today will emit around 200 tonnes of carbon by 2050. We believe this is unacceptable and we are committed to developing and building sustainable homes.

Over the last 7 years, we have built more than 60 houses – progressing from individual homes to small groups and larger developments. The economies of scale at our Springfield Meadows site (25 houses) meant that we could progress from a zero-carbon approach to climate-positive development. This means that the houses we are building have the net effect of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere rather than adding to it.

One of the ways we achieve this is through bio-based materials. Plants convert CO2 into cellulose and we can harness this capability to lock carbon into our buildings for the next few centuries. We also build to Passivhaus energy performance standard – meaning our homes use very little energy for heating – and use solar PV panels to generate power. These sustainable construction methods are not only good for the environment, but they also make for more comfortable and healthier homes.

At Springfield Meadows, we used the One Planet Living® framework to ensure the development considers every aspect of sustainability, including an electric car club, links to public transport, the use of local labour, and the creation of community features like a wildlife pond and orchard. The development is set to deliver a saving of over 6,000 tonnes of CO2 by 2050.

We aim to build enough climate-positive homes to become a catalyst for change in the construction industry, and we are working towards a goal of building 500 climate-positive homes by 2025. We believe that by creating a ‘critical mass’ of these developments in Oxfordshire we can continue to tackle issues of biodiversity, local food production, and sustainable transport.

The Springfield Meadows development has received a huge amount of local and national interest from MPs, housing associations, and the media as well as winning multiple awards. Greencore was even discussed in the House of Commons due to its zero-carbon construction and excellent performance. We hope this attention will help local authority planners to demand more from developers and have a positive impact across the wider house-building industry.

Our advice

Learn as you scale – We set out to build the UK’s most sustainable private development, but we couldn’t have done this without learning and improving as we worked on smaller projects. Our philosophy is do the best you can until you know you can do better, then do better.

Partner with local authorities – We are approaching sustainable building in an innovative way and this can create obstacles when it comes to planning approval. We worked with many supportive councillors, hosting site visits to educate them on the work we are doing.

Make a positive impact on biodiversity – We wanted to minimise disruption to the local ecosystem but realised we could have a positive impact. We created a groundbreaking partnership with the local Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) who helped us to design the site landscaping to increase biodiversity and wildlife.

Our metrics

  • Working with Bioregional to report on a One Planet Living® action plan.
  • Working with Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) to monitor wildlife and biodiversity.
  • Detailed carbon audits to see how far we fall below net zero.

Read more: http://www.greencoreconstruction.co.uk

Wildflower meadows planted to increase diversity.
Two of the site's affordable houses, opposite the wildlife pond.
One of 16 private houses at Springfield Meadows.
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