Black Country Housing & Community Services Group is leading a pioneering project to regenerate a council housing estate in Birmingham by building a new development featuring 'green' designs, building materials and technologies.

When finished, it will become the city's first fully sustainable housing scheme.

The £12 million showcase scheme in Warstock has been given the go ahead by Birmingham City Council. The plan is to provide 114 houses and apartments, two thirds of them for private sale and the rest occupied on a rented and shared ownership basis through BCH.

It is a partnership between BCH and the City Council, who will be selling six acres of land for the project.

The demolition of five structurally defective multistorey blocks of flats previously situated at the site, has already been completed.

A private developer, soon to be appointed from a short list of four companies, will join the partnership.

Energy efficiency and water conservation measures will be key to making the homes affordable for all. The architects are Associated Architects, responsible for designing the prestigious Mailbox and Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre schemes. Other partners include Arup as consulting engineers; Paul Mantle Partnership of Halesowen as cost consultants; and Derek Lovejoy Birmingham as landscape designers.

Work is expected to start on site shortly and take about two years to complete.

The design specifications will include high standards of roof, floor and wall insulation; fuel efficient heating, lighting and power systems; solar/photovoltaic and solar water heating systems; water efficiency technologies; home working facilities; and stormwater recovery and 'grey' water recycling technologies.

Local residents - both tenants of the homes proposed for demolition and those in neighbouring properties - are being consulted about the design of the new homes.

"Residents and local councillors will continue to be consulted to ensure any proposals meet the needs of the whole community," said Councillor John Lines, Birmingham City

Council's Cabinet Member for Housing.

"We want to achieve the very highest levels of design, while creating a sustainable and popular neighbourhood."

Meanwhile a Coventry construction company has achieved an industry standard that will lay the foundation for it to win substantial new contracts.

Benfield Construction has been awarded the highest level certificate in the Construction Accredited Performance Standard (CAPS).

The scheme is aimed at helping small and mediumsized construction companies to work in partnership in order to bid for bigger contracts.

It also acts as a quality mark and is seen by many local authorities as necessary qualification in order for companies to land public sector work.

Martin Woodhouse, managing director of Benfield Construction, said CAPS would open new doors for the Paynes Lane firm.

He said: "As a company, we always want to make sure that we are one step ahead of the game when it comes to accreditation. It is an integral part of the construction industry.

"We are the first in the Midlands to achieve the highest level and shows our commitment to standards."