Leeds will take its first step towards becoming a zero carbon city this summer as the first residents of the new Climate Innovation District prepare to move in…
Citu is a name that’s synonymous with sustainability. Founded in 2004, their commitment to climate change has led them to create some of the most exciting eco-friendly developments in the world today. They believe there’s a better way to live in our cities – and if their latest development is anything to go by, they’re right.
The new zero-carbon community on the South Bank
The Climate Innovation District brings together cutting-edge technology and Scandinavian design to create a sustainable community in the heart of Leeds. This is the first time that houses have been built in the city centre for 90 years and they’re so energy efficient that their heating requirements can be met with 100% renewable energy.
To put that into context, it takes around 23,000 kWh to heat a typical 4-bed detached house, but the equivalent Citu home could use as little as 1,019 kWh. Why? Because they’ve made their houses 10 times more air-tight than the UK building regulations require and fitted them with a Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery System (MVHR).
This is an incredible piece of tech. It pulls in the fresh air from outside and pumps out the stale air from inside – but before they switch places, it transfers over 90% of the heat, so not only will your home stay warm, but the air quality will be up to four times better than a conventional house. And if you’ve been suffering from hayfever lately, you’ll be happy to know that it also filters out particulates like pollen.
Because Citu homes are so efficient, you won’t need a traditional central heating system with a boiler, and what little heat you do use can be powered by renewable energy – they even have their own network of solar panels, which supply a constant stream of green energy to the whole community. That’ll have a huge impact on your carbon footprint. After all, a single gas boiler produces around 2.3 tonnes of CO2 every year, but here, you’re carbon neutral.
And that’s not the only way they’re reducing carbon emissions. From their state of the art manufacturing facility, which produces 97% less waste than conventional construction methods, to the timber frame that locks away carbon dioxide rather than creating it, Citu has built sustainability into every inch of the development. You can even control your own consumption with their custom-made Actuate app, which lets you track your energy usage and turn off appliances remotely to save power to reduce your carbon footprint.
You won’t believe you’re in the city centre
It’s not just sustainability that makes the Climate Innovation District unique, they’ve done away with the usual soulless apartment buildings and replaced them with modern homes in a vibrant community-led space. Nestled on the waterfront in the city’s South Bank, it will have two acres of green space with over 60 trees and a series of jetties on the water where you can relax in the sunshine.
It’s just 2 minutes from Leeds Dock by foot and 6 minutes to the train station by bike, so you’re right in the heart of the city, but you’d never believe it. With under-croft parking, big swathes of parkland and community gardens where you can grow your own veg, they’ve created a wonderful road-free haven where the kids can play in a safe, car-free environment while you chat to your neighbours. School is easy too – Citu has plans to build a primary school within the Climate Innovation District, and the Ruth Gorse Academy, which has just been rated Outstanding by Ofsted, is just a short walk away.
It has all the building blocks of a strong, sustainable community, but the people who live here will be equally important to its success – which is why Citu is only selling to occupiers, not investors. That way, you know your neighbours will be as invested in the Climate Innovation District as you are, something that’s even more important when you realise that it’s the residents who will control the development’s future.
Once complete, Citu will set up a Community Interest Company to manage it. This not-for-profit organisation will maintain the communal areas, manage the on-site renewables and make sure your homes remain at peak efficiency. Most of the time, they’ll be hard at work in the background, but when it comes to big decisions, like investing in new tech, the residents will have a vote – if you buy a home here, you can decide how the development will change and evolve over time.
These are modern homes with a real sense of place
So what can you expect from the houses themselves? White Arkitekter has designed Phase One, which sits on the northern side of the river. It’s made up of three rows of spacious 4-bed houses, each with their own individual rain gardens – like the development itself, they have sustainability in mind, so they collect the rain and release it slowly into the flowerbeds.
Floor to ceiling windows let in natural light to create a bright, airy environment, and 3-storey light wells bring the sunlight down through every level. They’ve got homes that open out onto the waterfront and topsy-turvy houses with the living space on the third floor, so you can look out over the water while you eat or head up to the roof terrace for alfresco dining in the sun. The first of these homes will complete this summer, with prices starting from £330,000, and they’ll follow them with a series of sustainable apartments in 2019 that will be available from just £150,000.
Once that’s finished, they’ll move onto Phase Two on the other side of the river. For this, Citu has joined forces with Ollier Smurthwaite and they’ve already bagged an award for their designs. Last year, they won a Housing Design Award for Placemaking – they’re like the Oscars of the housing world, and the Climate Innovation District was the only project outside London to be awarded one in 2017.
The Climate Innovation District is Citu’s most ambitious project to date. They set out to prove that there’s a better way to live in cities and that’s exactly what they’ve done. Once complete, it will be one of the most energy-efficient developments in the world – and it happened right here in Leeds.
Join the Catalyst Programme and get a brand new Nissan Leaf leased for 3 years
Citu is a catalyst for change – and you can be too. They’re looking for buyers who are passionate about sustainability and will help accelerate the transition to zero-carbon cities by telling their story. You’ll have to buy a House Type 1 at the Climate Innovation District and commit to weekly interviews, blog articles and social media posts about your experiences for one year, but in return, you’ll get a brand new Nissan Leaf leased for 3 years and a customisable Mango Bike.