Designed for international markets, the Super E Program works closely with the housing industry to accelerate the construction of world-leading, energy efficient and healthy homes. The Program partners UK builders with Canadian experts, collaborating the best practices in housing design, technology and construction methods from both countries. The technical standards exceed many UK building regulation requirements, leaving Super E UK builders well positioned to meet the increasing demand for high-quality housing expressed by both consumers and government.

After a thorough review of the Super E system, UK newbuild insurer, Zurich, has concluded that the system is not only effective, but is a positive development for UK house building. Details of the Super E home and its benefits have been included in the Zurich Building Guarantee’s Technical Manual.

Martin Horsler, manager of Zurich Insurance Building Guarantee commented: “In our experience, claims from new homeowners are often heightened by their disappointment with the ‘living quality’ of their new home. The Super E design in our view offers a technological advance which directly and positively addresses this. It is why we have ensured that we are in a position to assist house builders who want to use Super E.”

Super E UK builders not only benefit from the technical expertise offered by the Program, but find value in the training, advice and marketing support provided. UK builders receive specialised training from their Canadian partner to ensure all aspects of the Super E houses are completed as designed. A heavily targeted media relations campaign to create awareness and promote partnerships is provided out of London by Fuel Public Relations. A celebratory event at building completion is held to mark the launch of each builder’s first Super E house, and a members’ forum is held annually to discuss everything from marketing opportunities to technical innovations.

The Super E website provides information on the Program, the benefits to homeowners and Program background for Canada, Japan and the UK. Super E members can log onto to access research, technical support and marketing tools.

Working in partnership

Award winning UK developers Sunley and Environ Country Homes launched the first ever Super E home in the UK in Kent last year.

Sunley and Environ Country Homes were looking for a product at the Lacuna development that would provide a timber engineering solution without compromising their design concepts, but as they were unable to find a company prepared to manufacture the volume of bespoke timber frame units the project needed, they had to complete “Phase A” using traditional construction.

Having investigated Scandinavia, which could only offer standard products, Sunley and Environ Country Homes decided to explore the east coast of America where Mic Allouette approached them (Mic Allouette is the international division of Allouette Homes, a Canadian manufacturer of timber frame houses for 30 years). Mic Allouette demonstrated its flexible approach and ability to build the concept Sunley and Environ wanted without compromise.

The Super E product has enabled the companies to make a quantum leap in achieving their environmental policy in terms of energy efficiency, healthy building and use of non-toxic products. The two builders also recognised the support which the Canadian government were giving the Super E product.

Due to popular demand, Sunley and Environ have recently signed an agreement to build a further 30 Super E homes in the next phase of the project. The new homes, which will be built in Lacuna’s Zone B, have started to arrive on site and should be completed by the end of September 2003. Sunley and Environ are also negotiating to develop Super E homes in Zone C along with a new show unit and courtyard.

“I am thrilled that we at Sunley together with Environ Country Homes are leading the way in revolutionary energy efficient homes in the UK using the Super E concept,” said James Sunley. “It is a testimony to the partnership with our Canadian friends across the Atlantic that we are able to offer UK home buyers a superior energy efficient and altogether healthier environment.”

Sunley is not alone in its Canadian alliance. Interhabs UK was established in Inverness 12 years ago and has been involved with the design and construction of many homes throughout Scotland, England and Ireland. It has joined forces with Capital Homes to launch the first Super E home in Scotland at the Carn Mor Development in Culbokie, near Inverness Scotland. Interhabs UK works in conjunction with its parent company Interhabs Ltd (a Canadian company based in Nova Scotia), to supply pre-engineered houses around the world.

Moving forward

The UK building market is developing a keen interest in the advantages of timber frame housing. Canadian house building companies have been manufacturing and using pre-assembled timber frame housing systems for many years and although the concept of using timber frame is relatively new in parts of the UK, timber frame house construction offers an attractive way to address concerns about the cost and availability of on-site labour.

Many builders in the UK still use the traditional method of brick and block, but are becoming more aware of and keen on timber frame. However, making the transition can be daunting. The Super E Program provides a low risk approach to incorporate features which will maximise durability, quality, comfort and energy efficiency ensuring that the change over from brick and block to timber frame is a positive and beneficial experience.

Common characteristics

Although specific components may vary, all Super E homes have common characteristics including:

  • High quality – all Super E houses must meet strict guidelines for design and performance as potential buyers demand well built, durable homes.

  • Comfortable – with insulation and attention to construction detail, homebuyers can expect draught-free homes, even temperatures and effective ventilation.

  • Healthier – healthy building materials are used to enhance indoor air quality and fits well into the trend towards healthy living.

  • Environmentally progressive – the building materials are continually developed and researched to reduce the impact on the environment.

  • Energy efficient – the costs of running a home are just as important as the purchase price. Substantial savings can be made within the build time and the actual day-to-day running of the house each month.

Through the development and research into energy efficiency housing, the Super E housing programme is one of the most innovative and adaptable housing systems in the world.

Jason Kee, business development officer for the Canadian High Commission in the UK commented: “We were pleased to facilitate these partnerships and look forward to seeing the results of an exciting landmark in the UK housing industry”.