Eco Houses Under Construction
About this project
- Date started:
- May 2011
- Number of people involved:
- Number of people benefitting:
- Goals or benefits:
- Related Transition stage:
The aim of this project is to enable interested home-owners and building professionals to visit and learn about local eco houses under construction. Many "eco features" are hidden by the time a build or refurbishment is complete, so this project is all about explaining what is not always visible in an eco-home.
It is about raising awareness of energy saving and generation options, and their relative priorities in different situations.
Following on from our other Eco House projects (open days and seminars), the Eco Houses Under Construction project came about because Julie was about to build herself a new timber frame house to Code 5, and Tina was due to start refurbishing a 1950's solid wall house using passive house principles. We thought other home-owners like ourselves might want to follow these projects and learn about energy-efficient houses.
Outcomes so far:
Through interest in this project, membership of the Eco House Group has grown from 90 to 160+ members who have signed up to receive invitations to events in the series. 4 well-attended events have taken place to date. The project has attracted interest from other Transition groups.
The visits are welcome to everyone, from building professionals to people who aspire to create an eco-home (or just dream of owning their own home!). The surprising thing for me is that members of the group are already re-evaluating their future plans now that they understand the subject in more depth. For example, some are actively looking to buy a solid wall home that is ripe for refurbishment to turn into an eco home, because the home that they live in now is not suitable for such attention. Another unexpected outcome was the success of teaming up with our nearest AECB local group - through them we have been able to add other eco house examples to the project.
Obstacles, and how we overcame them:
It is important to be flexible - planning an event on a building site can be tricky if the building work does not progress at the anticipated rate! Set expectations that the date may need to change, or invite people to sign up and publicise the exact date when it is safe to do so.
It is a good idea to have a range of houses to showcase, partly because people like to compare different options, and partly because it adds to flexibility if one project is delayed.
We're only half way through this phase of the project - there should be more to say by Feb 2012.
Links and partnerships:
The Eco Houses Under Construction project built on previous projects run by West Bridgford in Transition's Eco House Group. The initial Eco House Group events were promoted via all of WBiT's other projects and other local Transition networks.
Members of the WBiT team bring a range of professional expertise to the project (technical, IT, media, marketing)
Others who supported the Eco House Group include the Energy Saving Trust local representative, the Energy Officer at Ruschcliffe Borough Council, and of course Groundwork East Midlands.
Organisations who have promoted the Eco Houses Under Construction events include Climate Change Action Network, Global Action Plan, Notts Green Network, AECB (Sustainable Builders Association), Superhomes network, Great British Refurb, local magazines, the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment.
One very useful partnership, stumbled across by chance, is the AECB local groups network. We have teamed up with the representative of the East Midlands local group to share events. The AECB runs information-sharing events to enhance the expertise of its members, so we have organised combined events with Eco House Group members (who are mostly home owners). It also means we have gained access to more eco house examples than we originally anticipated.
Sources of funding:
We successfully applied to Groundwork East Midlands for a "Growing Climate Friendly Communities grant" to fund the Eco Houses Under Construction project.
The funders are Climate East Midlands, East Midlands Improvement and Efficiency Partnership and Communities and Local Government.
The project started with two building projects to follow: one new build designed to sustainable homes Code 5 and one low energy refurbishment of a 1950's solid wall home. Other examples are being included as opportunities arise.
Each event, whether on the building site or off-site, focuses on the approach taken to make each building low energy or sustainable, and the practicalities of achieving this. Visitors have the chance to see the building fabric as it progresses (in the flesh and in photographs), and to learn about the theory and reality of the project.
The "invisible" aspects covered include the tangible (insulation, draught-proofing, ways to ensure good air quality) and the intangible (reducing cold bridging, preventing condensation and mould growth, materials with low embodied energy, reductions in carbon emissions and energy use).
Relevant experts (the home owners themselves, or architects and experts from companies providing these specialist products or services) are on hand at each event to give presentations or just chat and answer questions.
The events in the series include presentations (on/off site) and site tours led by the architects and experts from companies providing insulation, lime render, timber frame buildings, etc. An exhibition of all the homes involved so far (and others) is being planned for January 2012.