The UK's first homeless hostel designed with sustainability in mind has opened.

Like so many sustainable buildings of late, the Belvidere Road Family Centre was a retrofit project. The nineteenth century building was completely gutted in order to create 16 self-contained energy efficient flats. The project was a joint venture between Liverpool Mutual Homes (LMH) and Liverpool City Council.

Steve Coffey, chief executive of LMH, said: "The building was dark and desperately in need of modernising. People using the centre now have self-contained apartments with private bathrooms and kitchens and a wide range of communal facilities to help them rebuild their lives.

"The scale of the project was enormous. It took three months to demolish and clear the internal structures and attach the original building to the new extension while the 140-year-old shell was retained."

In order to make the building as energy efficient as possible it features a green sedum living roof to reduce rainwater run-off and add insulation. A rainwater harvesting system collects water from the roof of the building and is used to provide 60 per cent of communal water.

High levels of insulation have been used throughout the building, along with energy efficient windows and doors with low maintenance aluminium frames.

There was a lot of emphasis placed on natural light during the design process so that the centre has 'a light, airy ambience that is uplifting with a very modern feel'.

The building is also capable of producing its own electricity and hot water thanks to a number of solar panels used to produce electricity and a solar thermal system.

Thermostats have been fitted to each room in order to regulate temperatures and a centralised thermal store distributes energy from heat pumps, boilers and solar systems.

Increasing numbers of homeowners and community groups have been looking to solar energy to provide electricity and heat in recent months in an attempt to reduce overall running costs, as well as carbon output.