This site is aimed at UK self builders who want to incorporate green features into their project. The range spans small home improvement jobs right through to community self build.
Self builders have something of a tradition of trying out new and emerging techniques, not least with green technology.
Over the last decade or so the green building movement in the UK has gone from being fringe to mainstream. Architects, builders and suppliers are falling over each other to declare their green credentials
Domestic buildings in the UK account for more than 12% of carbon emissions and have a huge ecological impact on the building materials industry.
Continental companies are queuing up at trade fairs to sell us their green building products.
Our present government may be quite good at the libertarian end of encouraging self build but seems to have little serious intention to green it. But hey! Let’s stay upbeat!
Now is the time to look at progressive and emerging trends in selfbuild and custom build. Standards are on the change. Anyone relying on old thinking about environmental standards is liable to get left behind. Even the current building regulationsThese are the mass of regulations that cover safety, health, welfare, convenience, energy efficiency etc. in the way buildings are constructed. Not to be confused with Planning consent (which is more to do with whether you can put up the building in the first place). See more on the regulations are greening up rapidly!
In 2012, Grant Chapps, the then Minister of State for Housing and Planning, announced a government initiative to encourage more activity in the self build market with a follow-up of pilot schemes and funding.
The government originally stated its intention that by 2016 all new homes shall be “nearly zero energy” in line with EPBDEnergy Performance of Buildings Directive. This is the EU directive that all new buildings shall be "Nearly Zero-Energy Buildings’ from 2021. legislation which sets a 2020 deadline. It has now backtracked on that plan with very little on the horizon in terms of green intentions. It remains to be seen how the raising of standards will progress. Either way this will be a huge challenge to anyone building a house, given the present low level of commitment, expertise and skill within the house building industry.
Anyone achieving a high rating such as PassivhausSee more on the Passivhaus standard. The PassivHaus Institute has pioneered a standard for low energy buildings. It includes very low energy usage and ways of achieving this. The word is derived from the idea of buildings which are fundamentally low energy and passive solar heated rather than using extra gadgets to heat them. See Passivhaus for the UK branch of the organisation. standard, AECBthe Sustainable Building Association gold standard or (the recently withdrawn) CSH6 will not only have moved sustainable building forward but should have made a sound financial investment and have a place they can be proud to live in. This is not ‘rocket science’ (most of the building techniques such as Passivhaus, and funding institutions such as the Ecology Building Society have been around for a decade or two). What is new is the awareness that what is good for the planet can be good for the pocket, good for the soul and extremely comfortable.
New and retrofit
An even greater challenge than building a new house is the refurbishment of an existing one. There are only a relatively few examples in the UK of older houses which have been brought up to a high standard. (and see Enerphitthe Passivhaus standard as applied to refurbishment of an existing house. It makes allowance for the difficulty of bringing older properties up to a high thermal standard. see Passivhaus refurbishment , which is the Passivhaus version of retrofit)
Self build / Custom build can mean many things to many people; from doing every last detail yourself through to commissioning an architect to achieve what you want.
Whichever way, this web site assumes that there is an imperative to reduce energy usage, protect natural habitats, reduce pollution, increase the quality of living and have a great time building a house.