'Energy village': Why this surreal Gateshead estate will include homes spanning the 20th century

A group of houses from different generations is being built in Gateshead as part of research into ways of decarbonising home energy use.

Northern Gas Network’s ‘Energy Village' will consist of nine houses built in the style of eras spanning the 20th century, including:

  • Two 1910 terraced homes

  • Two semi-detached 1930s houses

  • A 1950s bungalow

  • Two flats from the 1970s

  • A detached home from the 1990s

They will then be tested to find out the best energy solutions. 

Credit: Northern Gas Networks

Situated on Northern Gas Networks’ (NGN) research site at Low Thornley, Construction of the Energy Village began in February.

It is due to be completed in the autumn.

NGN is leading the project with support from its partners at Newcastle University, National Energy Action and North East Energy Catalyst.

The project secured £1.96 million from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership through the Local Growth Fund and Getting Building Fund.

Keith Owen, Head of Systems Development at Northern Gas Networks, said: "Home heating accounts for one third of the UK’s carbon emissions, so the way we heat our homes and use energy and other resources, such as water, needs to change quickly.

Credit: Northern Gas Networks

"It’s a hugely complex challenge and we need to identify a variety of solutions that will workacross the wide range of homes in the UK.

"For this reason, each property in the Customer Energy Village has been designed in keeping with the era in which it was built rather than today’s building standards so we can fully understand the impact building fabric and original design can have on the decarbonisation of the homes we live in.

"This will help us identify the most efficient and affordable solutions that work to support a fair transition to low carbon living for all."

Credit: Northern Gas Networks

Gateshead Council, which has its own goal to achieve net zero carbon by 2030 and last year adopted a Zero Carbon Heat Strategy, collaborated in Customer Energy Village design workshops providing an insight into the real-world issues facing their residents, to reduce energy and water consumption and cut their carbon footprint.

Councillor Martin Gannon, leader of Gateshead Council, said: "We are very glad to be a partner in this important project.

"We have a huge variety of different homes and energy needs in Gateshead, so it’s vital we identify the right technologies to help all our residents reduce their carbon footprints and improve energy efficiency."