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UK announces finalists for 'homes of the future' contest that aims to produce sustainable designs

Key Points
  • As concerns about carbon emissions grow, the design of energy efficient and sustainable buildings is becoming especially pressing.
  • The overall winner of the competition will be announced in the fall. 
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The finalists for a competition looking for "homes of the future" have been announced by the U.K. government, with the winner set to be announced in the fall.

The "Home of 2030" contest has awarded the six finalists £40,000 ($52,746) each to help them progress with their projects.

Homes are responsible for 25% of the U.K.'s carbon emissions, the government says, making the design of energy efficient and sustainable buildings especially pressing. To this end, designs for the competition had to meet a number of requirements, such as having a low environmental impact and being both deliverable and scalable.

Ideas to have made the final cut for the competition include "Janus", which has been developed by Outpost Architects alongside Milk structures, Gaia Group Ltd, Barbara Jones, EcoCocon, Propagating Dan, and Atelier Replica. The design centers around a modular type of housing that uses materials such as straw and timber.

Another concept, put together by The Positive Collective together with Arup, ECOSystems Technologies and COCIS, focuses on the use of "home-grown" solid timber panels that are produced off-site as well as the utilization of "very low energy systems."

According to authorities, the eventual winner of the competition, together with a number of other finalists, will benefit from an introduction to development partners of Homes England, which has been described as "the government's housing accelerator."

This will in turn allow them to "explore the possibility of developing bids for a series of homes on Homes England land."

In a statement issued on Sunday alongside the government's announcement, Alan Jones, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, said that the U.K. urgently needed "a broad mix of affordable, age-friendly and sustainable housing – and these shortlisted proposals provide exactly that."

"Through the clever configuration of private and public space, natural light and ventilation, intelligent use of materials and technologies … these cost-effective, low carbon homes show what's possible when architects collaborate," Jones added.

Back in July, U.K. Finance Minister Rishi Sunak unveiled plans for a £3 billion "green investment package" that will attempt to boost the energy efficiency of buildings and help create jobs, although environmental groups criticized the government for failing to match the commitments of their European counterparts.

As part of his plans, Sunak announced a £2 billion "green homes grant" that will enable landlords and homeowners to apply for vouchers to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

A separate £1 billion will focus on making public buildings, such as hospitals and schools, greener, while a £50 million fund will "pilot the right approach to decarbonize social housing."