Category: Eco Homes

Victorian end-terrace, renovated with sustainable materials ~ case study

open eco homes

According to Judith the owner of this Cambridge 1912 terraced house, the main aim of the renovations was to create a bigger and more usable space. Rather than moving she realised that they could live better where we were with just a ground floor extension and better storage.

Insulating the house properly to make it cosier and reduce their Co2 emissions was very important and they also worked on making the most of the natural
light, for both aesthetic reasons as well as energy usage.

Ross Street

Improvements included using different types of internal wall insulation including polyurethane with aerogel in smaller spaces and on the chimney breasts. They also added a wood burning stove and solar PV.

Full details. Look out for Cambridge Open Eco Homes days where you can visit the property. The Open Eco Homes are run by Cambridge Carbon Footprint.

If you live in Cambridgeshire you can get a grant up to £6000 for the cost of solid wall insulation. Contact Peter Bates Tel 01353 667973


2014 launch of Cambridge Open Eco Homes

open eco homes

Cambridge Carbon Footprint have just launched their 2014 Open Eco Homes Project that will include at least 18 new-build and retrofit low-energy homes, both new-build and retro-fit in and around Cambridge being open to the public in September. Householders will show and explain the energy-saving features of their homes – the pros and cons and how to get the best out them to save on energy bills and carbon emissions.

Open Eco Homes aims to inform and inspire visitors to improve the energy efficiency of their own homes or choose very efficient new ones.
The homes demonstrate a wide range of eco-renovation technologies, from underfloor heating to wood burners, all kinds of insulation and condensing boilers, right through to green roofs, gardens and water-butts.

The Open Days will take place on the 14 and 20 September 2014 – but must be booked in advance. In addition there will also be a series of workshops “digging deeper into home renovation” during October and November. Their website will also contain a series of case studies.

open eco homes poster

For more details go to the Open Eco Homes Website.

Today’s attitudes to low and zero carbon homes – views of occupiers, house builders and housing associations in the UK

This National House Building Foundation (NHBC) primary research report summarises the current thoughts, awareness and understanding towards issues such as climate change, the 2016 zero carbon definition, airtightness and renewable technologies.

Containing a detailed examination of responses from occupiers, house builders and housing associations, Today’s attitudes to low and zero carbon homes – views of occupiers, house builders and housing associations assesses the priorities of industry and the consumer when building or purchasing a new home.  It looks at views that could impact new homes of the future and sets the context for the research and presents the key findings, recommendations and current details of the definition of zero carbon homes.

Key findings

The study found that:

  • Home occupants were sceptical of the title zero carbon, but didn’t like new homes being described as eco or green either. There was one term that occupants did like: 70 percent thought the phrase ‘energy efficient’ would tempt them to look at a home. Occupants also had negative perceptions of the names of some eco-technologies, such as greywater recycling, but were more positive when a description was given.
  • More than half of occupants were slightly or strongly attracted to buying a home with solar thermal or photovoltaic panels, although interest was found to decline with age.
  • 53 of 54 occupiers whose homes had mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) opened their windows on an occasional basis, with 57 percent keeping a window open at night. None said that they didn’t open the windows at all.
  • 87 percent of occupiers with MVHR kept the system running all or most of the time, but some turned it off in summer because they believed it used electricity unnecessarily.
  • 45 percent of housing associations said they have installed a back-up for a renewable technology in case of failure.
  • 23 percent of housing associations have decommissioned a technology because they have experienced problems. The report said that air source heat pumps and biomass boilers appear to have been most troublesome.
  • 39 percent of housing associations and 44 percent of housebuilders reported problems in sourcing reliable manufacturers. Only 31 percent overall could name a manufacturer with whom they have had a good experience.

Ways to improve attitudes

The report’s recommendations include:

  • The housebuilding industry should emphasis the lower running costs resulting from the energy efficiency of new homes through their marketing materials and sales staff.
  • Housebuilders need to adopt terminology that is user-friendly, engaging and easily understood.
  • Housebuilders must work to develop user friendly instructions and guides, training and intuitive control systems.
  • Valuers and mortgage lenders need to recognise that new homes save owners money in running costs, and factor this into valuations and lending decisions.
  • Occupiers should be encouraged to engage with renewable technologies and given more information about financial incentives.
  • Manufacturers need to develop products that work well in practice, with better technical support.
  • The government must confirm the remaining parts of the zero carbon definition to give industry confidence to engage with and respond to the challenge.

Further information

Article: Developers urged to improve occupants’ grasp of the benefits of green homes


Hyson Green Eco House – Nottingham, UK

The Partnership Council is a community charity based in Radford, Nottingham, UK has been given planning permission by Nottingham City Council to convert a small terraced house on St Paul’s Terrace in Hyson Green into the Hyson Green Eco House.

The Eco House will be used as a base for money-saving information and community workshops to help local people save money on fuel bills. Free workshops will teach simple, affordable DIY techniques, which people can use in their own homes.

Nottingham City Homes will lend the property to the Partnership Council, to help improve the quality of life for local families. We are now just awaiting the final paperwork.

Moby Farrands from the Partnership Council, who’s been planning the project, said:

“Other Eco Houses in the UK have cost thousands of pounds to reduce their energy bills. Most are large houses with big gardens, owned by organisations or people who can afford expensive adjustments – installing heat pumps, solar panels and hi-tech insulation.

Our Eco House has a concrete back yard and a draughty front door into the living room,  its like many local houses.  We will show you can cut costs in a small house on a tiny budget, using your own skills, with help from fellow volunteers and recycled materials.

We will start with activities like sewing and putting up thermal curtains, draught-proofing floor boards, growing food on a small budget- not like the ‘Grand Designs’ Eco homes on the TV programme. We are keen to hear from anyone with their own home-grown designs or a skill to share – DIY, sewing, recycling or container-gardening. And a fun bit- we want some volunteers to build us a bicycle smoothie-maker.”

Key Motivation

Moby said that:

“Our Eco House Project is motivated by the findings that impoverished owner occupiers and tenants of private landlords have limited resources and little motivation for projects for carbon reduction. Our Project aims to help people with small scale DIY projects, and to experiment with alternatives to expensive options, with the focus on reduced fuel bills. We will hope to give information and support with applications for grants for more hi-tech options, and to campaign with public authorities for larger scale action. Our main focus is small old terraced housing, much of which will still be accommodation for the poor in 20 to 30 years time in many Midlands and Northern cities.”

More information

The Smart Home: Build by consumer pull

Pilgrim Beart, founder of Alertme gave a presentation at IET in March 2011 argued that consumers need to be in the driving seat and key for a successful transition towards reduction of carbon emissions in the home.

The presentation covers an exploration of how Smart Meter and Smart Grid roll out can help in bringing smart grid benefits into consumer’s homes and act as a catalyst for many more Smart Home services. Creating operational efficiencies for utilities will not be enough, consumers will need to experience the benefit too. Smart capabilities in the Home Area Network (HAN) will need to be built with future developments in mind. Consistent and open standards are vital for the future of the Smart Home.

Pilgrim Beart - Founder, Alertme

Watch the video