Leeds Climate Innovation District

The award-winning Leeds Climate Innovation District has transformed a city-centre brownfield site into a mixed-use neighbourhood of 516 low energy homes with integrated amenities for everyday life.

About this project

Developed by sustainable property company Citu, the Climate Innovation District combines sustainable design and construction techniques to deliver low-carbon living for city centre residents.

Architectural practice White Arkitekter took inspiration from Scandinavian urban developments to design the homes to deliver as close to zero carbon living as possible. Oriented to the south, the buildings harness the sun’s natural energy through passive solar gain, photovoltaic modules and active solar panels to provide light, heat and energy. In addition, the entire district benefits from rainwater and storm water collection and green roofs.

The properties are ten times more airtight than UK building regulations require, coming close to Passivhaus standards. Heating requirements are also ten times lower than the average modern UK home.

Heating and ventilation is delivered through mechanical ventilation and heat recovery (MVHR) systems, capturing heat from appliances and occupants with the result that the energy required for heating is minimal. Electricity is provided by solar panels on the roof, supplemented with energy from 100% renewable providers.

A holistic approach to zero-carbon

The area is designed to be car-free, encouraging residents to walk or cycle where possible. Amenities such a primary school, a care home, offices, a manufacturing plant and leisure facilities are integrated within the development. The district also houses a range of social spaces that are open to everyone. Cycle paths and cycle storage are incorporated throughout.

Access to green spaces is integral to the design, with green infrastructure embedded throughout the plan, encouraging healthy outdoor lifestyles. The benefits of quality green space include improved social interaction and integration, space for physical activity and play, improved air quality and reduced urban heat island effects.

Use of timber

The homes are constructed from insulted timber panels, storing 23 tonnes of carbon for each house. This compares to 88 tonnes of CO which would be emitted during the construction of a typical equivalent masonry house.

The timber-frame housing system for every property is fabricated in a specially built manufacturing plant, Citu Works, which is located on-site. This reduces the environmental and financial costs of transporting the completed timber panels to site.

Among the first of its kind in the UK, the manufacturing plant is capable of producing up to 750 low-carbon homes every year.

The first residents moved in during 2019. Subsequent phases of the projectcompleted in 2022 with the wider development of 1,000 eco-homes expected to complete by 2030

Why is it a Low-Carbon Case Study?

The average Citu home in the Climate Innovation District uses 16.38 kWH/m2/yr. 100% of the electricity used is from renewable sources. Some energy comes from on-site solar panels and some is purchased from Good Energy, which sources from 100% renewable sources. The ratio of on-site renewables to off-site renewables varies with weather and time of year.

On balance, each home stores 23 tonnes of CO2 and keeps it out of the atmosphere for its lifetime.

This is calculated as follows:

  • Each home sequesters 46 tonnes of CO2 in its timber frame;
  • 18 tonnes of COemissions are caused creating its non-timber components (embodied carbon);
  • 2.8 tonnes of CO2 emissions are caused by transporting the materials to the factory;
  • 1 tonne of CO2 emissions is caused by the energy used to build it in the factory;
  • 0.59 tonnes of CO2 emissions is caused by the energy used to construct it on site;
  • This gives a total net balance of -23 tonnes of CO2. per house.

A visual representation can be found below in this graph:



Winner Housing Design Awards 2020 and 2017

Further Information

Climate Innovation District

Images: CITU

Key contacts




White Arkitekter; Ollier Smurthwaite



Timber Supplier



Civic Engineers

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