Housebuilders were invited to submit expressions of interest to build England's first large scale development of zero carbon homes today, as national regeneration agency English Partnerships published its pre-qualifying questionnaire (PQQ) for a 150 home site in Bristol.

Hanham Hall – a 6.1 ha former hospital site in Bristol, owned by English Partnerships – has been identified as the first site in the country to be suitable for development under the agency’s Carbon Challenge.

The Carbon Challenge calls on developers to achieve the highest level (Level 6) of the Government’s new Code for Sustainable Homes to demonstrate that zero carbon homes, combined with cutting edge building design, are economically viable on a commercial scale. The PQQ is the first step in a process which will end in the summer with the appointment of a preferred developer for the site. Jayne Lomas, the Project Manager at English Partnerships responsible for the Carbon Challenge said, “This effectively brings the zero carbon homes of the future a significant step closer to reality – a hugely important development in the fight against climate change.

“The Government has made it clear that all new homes will need to be zero carbon from 2016 and the Carbon Challenge will help demonstrate to the construction industry how this can be achieved. And we need to start now – 2016 is less than a decade away – and nobody should underestimate the challenge of achieving zero carbon.” Philip Wolfe, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association, said: “We expect a substantial contribution for our 20% renewables target for 2020 to come from energy in buildings and we welcome the Carbon Challenge as an important driver for sustainability. “English Partnerships are showing real leadership in aiming straight for Level six of the new Code for Sustainable Homes.”

The Hanham Hall PQQ, published alongside a Memorandum of Information giving site specific details, is designed to establish organisational capacity to meet the requirements of the Carbon Challenge – including Level 6 of the new Code for Sustainable Homes – by reducing carbon emissions and incorporating features to reduce water usage and energy consumption, as well as minimise waste. Increasing biodiversity and including greenery, which is known to significantly reduce overheating and improve air quality, will also be a key requirement.

Developers completing the PQQ will be shortlisted to around 6 organisations that will be invited to submit a more substantive submission in response to a detailed design brief for the site.