Net Zero Modular Homes for the Homeless

This pioneering Passivhaus Plus development provides an exceptionally high standard of temporary accommodation for homeless families. Each net zero-rated home generates its own renewable energy. We won the Offsite Award for Building Performance Pioneer of the Year 2022 for this project.
Award-winning Passivhaus net zero modular housing
Made In The UK
Cardiff Council
No of Units
48 homes, 2 office blocks, 4 bungalows
Method of Delivery
Passivhaus Plus
Net Zero
< 0.6 ACH@50pa
0.11 W/m2k

Client: Cardiff Council

Cardiff Council was the client for these modular homes

Modular homes for the homeless

Aptly named ‘Hafan’ (which means ‘haven’ in Welsh), this award-winning modular housing scheme is our largest and most ambitious project to date. Somewhat ironically, these fossil fuel-free, net zero modular homes have been built on the site of a former gasworks in Grangetown, which the council acquired in 2020.

Modelled in the Passivhaus Planning Package (PHPP) and constructed around our patented, PHI certified timber-frame build system, these homes all meet the energy efficiency and thermal comfort requirements of the Passivhaus Classic standard, but then go further still to achieve Passivhaus Plus performance levels. As a result, these net zero-rated modular homes don’t just use less energy – they generate their own. Enough renewable energy, in fact, to power each home throughout the entire year.

Not only are these homes phenomenally energy efficient – effectively eliminating fuel poverty – they’re also rated net zero for carbon emissions. Cardiff Council shares our vision for a net zero future. The council has pledged to become a zero carbon local authority by 2030. Modular housing is an integral part of its overall strategy.

High quality modular homes for families experiencing homelessness

Commissioned to provide temporary accommodation for families experiencing homelessness, this ‘meanwhile’ housing scheme consists of forty-eight relocatable volumetric modular 1, 2 and 3-bedroom studio apartments, plus two additional modular blocks (which house an office block for staff, a training room, a training kitchen, a 24/7 medical office and a crèche).

Cardiff Council is providing full wraparound support services. Residents can attend sessions with trained and experienced staff that cover parenting skills, cookery, employment and financial advice services.

“What a wonderful facility Yr Hafan is, a real haven for families during a difficult time. As well as the new flats, the Caban Yr Hafan is a focal point on the site, a mini community centre for residents where they can access visiting health services, Into Work support, Adult Learning opportunities or just come together with neighbours to use the community facilities.

“Nobody wants to be living in temporary accommodation but we’ve had some great feedback from the families staying at the centre, both in terms of quality of the flats and the support they receive from our staff there. And, of course, the beauty of this type of build means we can move the units to other locations across the city in the future, if necessary.”

Lynda Thorne

Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities

Modular homes built offsite to Passivhaus standards

We’ve combined all the energy efficiency, comfort, and carbon-saving benefits of Passivhaus with the speed and versatility of offsite volumetric modular construction. Built to rigorous Passivhaus performance standards, our modular homes are highly energy efficient. Unlike traditional housing developments, which can often take a long time, modular housing can be delivered comparatively swiftly.

Modelled in the Passivhaus Planning Package (PHPP) and constructed around a sustainable timber frame, our patented build system maximises airtightness and minimises thermal bridging to retain heat and dramatically improve energy efficiency. We use timber as the basis of our structural thermal envelope. It has the lowest embodied carbon of any mainstream construction material. With over 80,000m2 of manufacturing space, we are capable of delivering large offsite projects. Our offsite operations are uninterrupted and unimpeded by external factors, such as the UK’s notoriously wet weather!

At Cardiff Council, we’re keen on zero carbon homes for environmental reasons, but also because of the low cost of heating. The cost of building conventional homes has soared so, although building passive houses has cost slightly more, the gap has closed. The council put a lot of thought into how to offer support to the residents and the site includes an office block for staff, a training room, a training kitchen, a 24/7 medical office, and a crèche. We’ve tried to be all-encompassing in addressing people’s needs, whether it’s their mental health, getting a job, or helping with parenting. It’s reassuring for them to have security and support on site. The idea of the training kitchen is to help residents learn to cook a nice meal and be more independent.
Christopher Probert
Project Manager for Housing and Development

We used 2.5kws of photovoltaic panels for each modular home

Building net zero modular homes

One of the simplest ways to achieve Net Zero is to build a Passivhaus and then add a source of renewable energy. Because the energy demand is so diminished, it only takes a small amount of renewable energy to balance it out. For this particular project, we used 2.5kws of photovoltaic panels per flat.

Independent analyst-house CERCULA was commissioned to conduct a full project lifecycle analysis. CERCULA discovered the potential cost savings could exceed £17 million when compared to a like-for-like traditional masonry build with average energy consumption. Moreover, by choosing Beattie Passive rather than a traditional housebuilder, Cardiff Council is estimated to have saved 5,189 tonnes of carbon. That’s equivalent to 86,483 trees grown from seed for a decade, 12,067 barrels of oil being burned or 1.12 wind turbines running for a full year!

What’s more, at the time of writing, residents at HAFAN are expected to save ~ £2,200 on their annual bills. That’s a very significant sum of money. The project also has 78% less whole life carbon than a traditional build. Clearly, Passivhaus is a panacea for many of the challenges facing construction and the housing sector. With Beattie Passive, Cardiff Council is tackling the housing crisis, the energy crisis and the climate crisis, while also raising building and living standards.

Offsite Award winner for Building Performance Pioneer of the Year

We were incredibly proud to win Building Performance Pioneer for this project at the Offsite Awards 2022. Special thanks to our client Cardiff Council and everyone who worked with us to deliver this pioneering scheme.

Jack Randall, Chief Commercial Officer at Beattie Passive, collected our award (pictured below with Mark Durden-Smith).

A testimonial from our client

Finally, let’s end with a quote from Jessica Ellwood, a supported accommodation worker who works for Cardiff Council at the new housing scheme at Ferry Road.

“The Ferry Road site is beautiful, and we are really enjoying working there. The apartments, as well as the whole site, feels spacious and well laid out. For temporary accommodation, in comparison to hostels, they are really a good size for families and perfect for encouraging independent community-based living, whilst still having 24-hour support on site. We have a mix of families on site and Ferry Road is seen as a safe place to call home. So much so, that many have cried when they stepped into the apartments to find such a beautiful safe haven.

“The community centre is a great space, is very unique and there is such a wide scope for its use. Our partner agencies are amazed with the setup, which they are finding perfect for delivering advice sessions, adult learning, and parenting courses. We are also starting to use the space for social events such as cinema evenings and afternoons for the children. We are really enjoying working at Ferry Road and find the site provides the clients with the perfect safe place alongside the space to have autonomy over how they live their lives as well as providing the staff with the ideal base to support the clients as they navigate from temporary to permanent accommodation.”

Our Net Zero modular homes are extremely energy efficient
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