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homes Revisit

TV series
How did you make your home sustainable? Traditionally, when people think about eco-friendly projects they think about wood or straw bales. However, we wanted to maximise the lasting sustainability, so we built the house out of high-thermal-mass concrete mixed with fly ash (leftover ash from power stations) to create a carbon-neutral material. We also used high-density concrete blocks made from 100 per cent recycled aggregate they retain heat like a storage heater. What about the aesthetics of concrete blocks? We managed to live with them for a couple of years, but eventually found them quite harsh. We decided to put a thin 5mm render over the top of them, which doesnt interfere with the heat-exchange properties and looks much cleaner. Any tips for others hoping to build an eco home? Make sure you create a design which is sustainable to build and to run, rather than concentrating on one or the other. Buy as much as you can locally and be prepared to use unexpected materials. The insulation we used was a urethane foam product called Celotex, which isnt particularly eco in its manufacture, but the energy it saves once its installed makes it worthwhile. Do you have any advice about gaining planning permission for alternative energy sources? Its all about information gathering, talking to the people living around you and making sure you have a coherent position. Dont be afraid to lobby the planning department. Originally the planning officer recommended refusal for our wind turbine, but after some intensive lobbying we managed to persuade the committee to come out to the site to have a look at it and they rejected the advice of the planning officer. You took down your wind turbine because it didnt generate enough power. What do you use now? We have photovoltaic panels now. When we need electricity, we use it and when we dont, the extra power goes back into the grid. I think well have covered our costs in about five years. What advice do you have for anyone thinking of embarking on their own grand design? Just get out there and do it. We have never regretted it. Iwouldnt be surprised if, in another five or 10 years, westartanother project.
162 April 2013


Has grand designer Jonathan Belseys eco home near Ipswich, with its controversial wind turbine, matched his expectations?
Words Esme Anderson Photography Jefferson Smith Jonathan and his partner Lindsey built their home to bring their families together under one roof a roof that carries solar thermal panels which provide all their hot water The polished concrete floor acts as a heat store in addition to the blockwork walls

Its a brave experiment by two pioneers who risked a whole lot ofmoney and failure to venture into uncharted territories Kevin McCloud