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Sheep’s wool insulation is used on innovative, ultra-low-carbon housing project

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Neath-based timber frame construction specialist, SO Modular, has completed work on an innovative housing development with contractor Capsel and Monmouthshire Housing Association (MHA), to build 17 new homes across two derelict ex-garage sites in Pembroke Road and Western Avenue, Chepstow.

Both sites comprise of two housing types: a terraced mews style house with a patio area, and an interlocking courtyard bungalow. The innovative design concepts aim to address the specific housing ‘wants and needs’ of two definitive demographics: younger first-time buyers and older people wanting to downsize.

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The low-carbon homes have been developed using £3.1m of funding by the Welsh Government’s Innovative Housing Programme. They are extremely energy efficient, with a Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) in excess of 100.

The houses have been constructed using SO Modular’s closed panel timber frame system and also fitted with solar panels on the roofs and ground-source heat pumps to transfer natural heat from under the ground to keep them warm – eliminating the need for a gas supply.

The state-of-the-art project is the first to be completed using this exclusive closed panel timber system with natural Welsh sheep’s wool insulation, developed by SO Modular.

The insulation is made from 75% sheep’s wool and 25% recycled polyester; a blend that allows for the full benefit of sheep’s wool with enhanced performance, breathability, durability, and sustainability.

This insulation has many benefits which will be enjoyed by the houses’ occupants: it regulates humidity, is mould resistant, has excellent sound reduction properties, and is breathable – purifying the air within the home.

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Its convenient compressed form also reduces transport impact by more than 50% compared to other insulation and is recyclable.

SO Modular is a rapidly expanding timber frame manufacturer with headquarters based in South West Wales. At the forefront of innovative and creative solutions within the construction industry, SO Modular is pushing boundaries and developing products that boost efficiency, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness across a diverse range of construction projects.

The company’s current research and development projects consist of manufacturing carbon-neutral but affordable timber-frame homes; homes that are so thermally efficient, with U-values so low, they require minimal heating and cooling, potentially completely removing the need for a central heating system at all.

Charlotte Hale, Operations Director, SO Modular, said: “We’re very proud to have been involved in such a forward-thinking scheme, implementing for the first time, our innovative panelised timber frame system, incorporating Welsh sheep’s wool insulation. I’m sure that the benefits of this type of construction will soon be adopted by the wider construction industry as a way to sustainably insulate homes and reduce the carbon footprint of such projects.

“With the construction industry constantly changing to incorporate more environmentally friendly practices, and timber frame buildings fast becoming the norm across the UK, the use of these kind of forward-thinking alternatives is a positive encouragement for us here at SO Modular to continue researching, developing and adapting to meet modern housing demands.”

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Stephen Venables, Senior Quantity Surveyor, Capsel Ltd., said: “We extend our thanks to SO Modular on their service, support and professionalism when delivering the two schemes in Chepstow, South Wales for Capsel and MHA.

“Whilst this project, being a new design concept, experienced its challenges, SO Modular’s site team worked tirelessly to resolve any issues that arose and embraced the ethos of collaborative working between client, design and delivery teams. Their commitment, hard work and enthusiasm was incomparable.

“This development has been for us and MHA a great first experience utilising Natural Welsh Sheep’s Wool Insulation on-site, and I believe this being SO Modular’s first full scheme using such an innovative insulation, they are extremely proud of themselves – and so they should be.”

Lead image: Artists impression of Capsel and Monmouthshire Housing Association development

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