For this development to be successful, it needs to be sustainable economically and socially as well as environmentally. This requires a community of people and homes that work together to build a sense of place.

We’re committed to providing more than the guideline of 25% affordable housing that’s a condition of planning consent. We’re working with the Highland Small Communities Housing Trust to deliver them, with the first two going on site during 2012.

We’re intending to use Hemcrete in construction. Hemp is a fast growing non-food crop that locks in carbon; mixed with lime cement it forms a highly insulating, airtight structure that provides thermal mass to help regulate indoor temperatures and reduce energy demands for heating and cooling.

It can be used as the building envelope for walls and roofs, constructed on site with minimal training for those interested in the hands-on approach.

We’ll use best practice in sustainable design through aspects such as choice of materials, building orientation, use of low and zero carbon technologies, flexibility for future use, and waste management. And in some areas we’ll go further, including Passive Haus design principles such as air tightness, solar gain and thermal massing, natural ventilation and day-lighting.

As more people are able to work from home, so the opportunities for rural communities grow – to include people who would otherwise not have been able to make a living in such a remote location. A large majority of these houses are not intended as holiday homes, but for occupation by locals and newcomers alike. A maximum of two of the 20 houses will be used for holiday letting.

We hope Achabeag will form a blueprint for new, sustainable communities across the north and west of Scotland. The work we’re doing on affordable housing and low carbon build systems has the potential to create long term employment for local people, and attract others to the area.

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