Scheme Summary

The scheme consists of 64 flats for rent, shared ownership and special needs, and 31 flats for sale. The flats include a mix of 2, 3, and 4 bedrooms. The 4 storey blocks are built around a central courtyard. The scheme has been awarded a Sustainable Projects Endorsement Certificate from the Association for Environment Conscious Building.

Scheme Details

The scheme is the first sustainable housing project of this size in Scotland. It aimed to provide better homes that people want to live in. Comely Green Place has been built to have the lowest practicable environmental impact throughout the lifetime of the development. The development recycled a contaminated brownfield site. Project development began in 1996 and the scheme was completed in 2000.

Environmental Features

The design specification took into account:

  • The environmental performance of each material in terms of production, operation and recycling/disposal.
  • The cost of the material compared to standard materials.
  • Operational performance of the material, taking into account the extended design life of the buildings.

An adaptation of the Environmental Preference Method, from the Netherlands, was used to set the specification. This method ranks materials against their environmental impact, throughout their whole lifecycle. It can help to determine if a higher environmental impact during construction can be justified by improved performance throughout the life of the building.

The buildings are constructed of sustainable timber, on piled concrete foundations. Boron treated suspended timber floors allow for higher levels of insulation than would have been possible using a more conventional concrete floor.

Timber is sourced from Forestry Stewardship Council accredited Scottish forests. 140 mm of cellulose insulation (recycled newspaper) was blown in on site. The frames are clad in rendered blockwork. The blocks are locally produced, with an 85% recycled content.

Cellulose is used to insulate walls, floor and roof. It has low environmental impacts and performs favourably against traditional insulation.

Roofs are covered in processed slate with a 65% slate quarry waste content.

Timber frame low emissivity argon filled double glazed units are installed. Consideration was given to installing triple glazing, but the above specification was considered a more cost effective environmental solution.

Non load bearing walls are built in flue gas gypsum plasterboard which is 100% recycled. All chipboard was certified to have low formaldehyde content.

Where concrete was used, it had a high recycled content. The installation of a greywater recycling system was considered, but was rejected early on in the process. Infrastructure and hygiene issues did not represent a good balance of costs and benefits. A more cost effective approach was taken by installing simple, but effective, water saving appliances. This includes low flush 6 litre WCs, showers over baths and low flow taps.

The homes are built to a high energy efficiency specification to reduce the level of energy in use. Building with energy efficiency and conservation in mind will create significant environmental savings in the long term. The energy efficient homes are heated by gas fired condensing boilers, with heat exchanging ventilation systems. Combined heat and power and community heating systems were considered. However, neither system was incorporated due to cost and other constraints.

The high levels of insulation, special double glazed windows and airtight construction will reduce energy demands significantly. An early appraisal of energy cost savings expected for each flat compared very favourably to that expected in a conventional build.

Annual Saving per flat Ground Floor 1st/2nd Floor 3rd Floor
% 30.6 29.3 28.8
95 85 85

Low energy light fittings are installed, with external lighting being energy efficient with little light pollution.

The homes have a design life of 100 years, as opposed to the usual life of 60 years. This affected the material specification, especially with roofing materials.


The overall scheme cost 6 million with an average cost of 72,000 per unit. The environmental features added 4% to the scheme, compared to that of a standard scheme.

Developer's Comments

Comely Green is not a fantasy of the future. It is a realistic development of today, which shows the practical steps to take using accessible materials to achieve sustainable schemes.

Contact: Robin Hamilton,
Director of Property Services,
Link Housing Association,
Edinburgh Area Office,
45 Albany Street,
Edinburgh, EH1 3QY
Tel: 0131 557 0350
Fax: 0131 556 2524