Homegrown homes for people + planet

Is there an alternative to relying on imports to create a low-carbon future for people and communities in the UK?

The UK’s built environment is responsible for 25% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing embodied carbon in the built environment is one of the major challenges to achieving net zero. By 2035, it is expected that embodied carbon will account for 50% of built environment emissions1. Urgent action is needed. 

There is growing recognition of timber’s potential as a low-carbon construction material – removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in products with a long service life. Increasing the use of timber can also help drive investment into tree planting, improve the ecological condition of woodland, and increase resilience to climate change.

However, the UK is currently the second-largest net importer of timber in the world. A total of £8.5billion worth of wood was brought into the country during 2021, with only China importing more in that time.

Is there an alternative to relying on imports to create a low-carbon future for people and communities in the UK?

A 100 mile bio-material home
Our R&D project – Homegrown Homes for People and Planet – is all about how localised modern methods of construction (MMC) can help meet this challenge by integrating more homegrown timber products and materials into the design, manufacture and construction of low-carbon affordable homes.

Using an existing MMC product – BlokBuild – as a real-world system demonstrator, the project is auditing the system and map the potential – from foundation to final fit-out. We’ll be testing for fire, carbon, thermal, acoustics, and structural performance, and exploring how regulation and warrantee processes can support more localised and diverse supply-chains of home-grown products and materials.

Our aim is to create a “homegrown” MMC type-home, which we will test for real on our micro-sites in Knowle West. We have set ourselves the challenge to see how much of the materials can be sourced locally from within 100 miles of Knowle West. We’ll be creating an open toolkit that models the journey and practical opportunities for other MMC providers to integrate more homegrown products and materials into their own systems.

To find out more, get in touch with Project Designer peter.tomson@kwmc.org.uk 

Tools + resources


Are you working with homegrown forests or timber materials and products? Get yourself on the map!

We are creating an open source map of homegrown timber suppliers, processes, and makerseveryone is invited from foresters to chopshops The map is in beta-form at the moment, but you can browse and add an entry below:


R+D Process


Taking a whole life-cycle approach to how we create new homes, including the sourcing of materials, product design, fabrication, assembly, maintenance, adaption and re-use, the project is:  

  • Mapping local supply-chains of homegrown producers, processors, and makers to assess the range and performance of products and materials available, both available now and emerging trends and opportunities; 
  • Dissecting the demonstrator MMC system into its constituent ingredients to audit which elements could be substituted with homegrown products and materials (from foundations to final fit-out); 
  • Designing, fabricating, and assembling a series of English wood-rich demo MMC components, build-ups and sections to assess how the materials work from a manufacturing and assembly perspective;
  • Testing the MMC demo builds for fire, carbon, thermal, acoustics, and structural performance;
  • Exploring how regulation and warrantee processes can support more localised and diverse supply-chains of home-grown products and materials, including how such products and materials can be incorporated into existing MMC housing systems; 
  • Designing a “homegrown MMC type-home” to demonstrate what is possible; 
  • Applying the learning to a set of real-world development sites to test for viability and deliverability. 

Project Partners


The project brings an applied R&D approach to innovation as together the project team includes knowhow across design, engineering, fabrication, quality assurance, and the end-user.  

  • Forestry Commission: This project is part of a new Construction Innovation programme led by the Forestry Commission that aims to increase the volume of carbon stored in the built environment by supporting the development of innovative timber products, supply chains and ways of working with wood.  
  • Blokbuild: Digital design and manufacturing collective (Hull) with a mission to make the built environment more sustainable through digital manufacturing technologies. With its BOPAS accredited system, BlokBuild delivers innovative MMC homes and buildings across the UK. It has a fabrication facility, complete with 3 test-rigs, that will support the demo builds and performance testing. BlokBuild bring their design for localised manufacturing and assembly knowhow to the project.  
  • Price & Myers: a UK-wide civil and structural engineering practice that’s completed 29,000+ projects and won 800+ design awards. Price & Myers bring their engineering and performance testing tools and experience to the project. 
  • BOPAS: a risk-based evaluation system which demonstrates to funders, lenders, and purchasers that homes built from non-traditional methods and materials will stand the test of time. BOPAS bring their assurance and evaluation knowhow to exploring how regulatory processes can support the incorporation of more diverse and localised products and materials into MMC housing systems.