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Research and innovation are key to delivering high-quality, beautifully designed and efficient homes to our customers.

To support the implementation of our business strategy, we continue to research and explore emerging longer term challenges and opportunities for Crest Nicholson in a number of areas, including fostering innovation within our business, supply chain, and the wider UK housebuilding industry.

Off-Site Manufacturing

The offsite manufactured homes built at our Arborfield Garden Village site last year have advanced our knowledge and understanding of modern methods of construction. We are now conducting post occupancy research that will allow further learning on the performance of the homes.

We have extended our trial of offsite manufacturing (OSM) using a light gauge steel frame system to apartments at Arborfield, Bath Riverside and Gloucester Quays.

OSM can offer opportunities for operational efficiency, improved product quality and the potential to improve our return on capital employed (ROCE). With more elements of the building frame manufactured in a factory environment, there is less risk of material damage and wastage on site. It also increases the speed of construction and reduces the impact of inclement weather on the build programme. In our trial at Arborfield Garden Village, the OSM homes were weathertight in just over one week, which is around 90% faster than a standard masonry build.

We continue to gather learning on the use of OSM and we are progressing our use of these techniques at a controlled pace. 

Building Performance & Customer Occupancy Evaluation

Building Performance (BPE) and Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) allows us to gather useful information on how our homes perform once they are built and lived in. Learning from this research is fed back into future home designs, ensuring we continue to build our knowledge base and deliver high quality homes.

Our Building Performance & Post-Occupancy Evaluation programmes began over ten years ago with our One Brighton development in 2006. This was the first development in the UK to be built under the principles of One Planet Living.

This was followed by four research projects funded by Innovate UK between 2010 and 2017:

  • Avante development in Coxheath in 2010 
  • Centenary Quay, Woolston, between 2012 and 2014
  • AIMC4 between 2011 and 2014.
  • AIMCh between 2015 and 2017

Thermographic image of home We are now embarking on another project funded by Innovate UK, which is exploring the use of a non-combustible mineral insulating technology. The insulation will be tested for its application within light gauge steel frame panels in a factory environment and its technical and sustainability performance will be reviewed.

As part of developing and launching our new range of house designs and researching the use of offsite manufacturing, we have conducted BPE on the OSM homes at Arborfield Garden Village. Part of this involved a detailed thermographic imaging survey, which indicated a good continuity of insulation and thermal performance.

We are now conducting POE on these homes, which will provide important feedback on the comfort levels and internal air quality.

To find out more about how we are driving innovation in Crest Nicholson, read our Integrated Report.


Low Carbon Homes

AIMC4 was a unique partnership created to research, develop and pioneer the cost-effective volume production of the low carbon homes for the future.

Download PDF
In briefLearning from Centenary Quay, Woolston
Working with our supply chain to benefit customers

Our two-year research programme at Centenary Quay, Woolston, looked in detail at how well the homes we built and the low-carbon Combined Heat and Power (CHP) district heating system performed for our customers. The project involved five key aspects:

    • An in-depth analysis of the homes’ as-built performance against the design intent.
    • A year-long monitoring of occupants’ use of the homes, which recorded energy and water consumption, as well as indoor air quality. This was combined with qualitative feedback gathered through interviews with the occupiers.
    • A development-wide survey looking at the design, environmental features, local amenities, parking, and public transportation.
    • A detailed analysis of the performance of the district heating system in collaboration with E.on, the energy supplier.

    Our research partners at UCL Energy Institute brought together the quantitative and qualitative data to tell us an interesting and insightful story about how well Centenary Quay has delivered its ambition of being a high-quality, low-carbon development. The results pointed to some opportunities across our design, commissioning, build, and customer communications to improve our performance. For example, researchers at UCL, who observed three hand-overs of new homes to customers at Centenary Quay, identified some great opportunities where we could better explain to customers how to use their home to keep their energy bills down. These opportunities are being reviewed, including clearer messages in the home owners’ guides and creating bite-size videos to explain how  different systems work in the homes that customers can refer back to at their leisure.

    The full results from this research were published by Innovate UK in 2015.

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