On World Environment Day 2019, the Go Construct blog chatted to some of our team for this great piece about what it's like working for Bristol's most trusted eco Design & Build company, and how construction can embrace a truly sustainable future:
Our Hill House project in Bath is now almost fully watertight and airtight with the last of the triple glazed Passivhaus-certified windows going in. The team will soon be pumping in the recycled newspaper cellulose insulation into the timber-framed walls and roof, making this home comfy both in the hot summer months and the colder winter ones too! We have removed the woodburner as it conflicts with the sustainable values of the house. They also reduce air quality whilst releasing stored carbon into the atmosphere - best to use that stored carbon and lock it away in the walls and let the neighbours breathe easy!
The next jobs are all the nice outside ones whilst the sun is (hopefully!) shining and then back inside to add the finishing touches - including super sustainable bamboo flooring and some lovely bespoke pieces of joinery.
The Greenheart team keeps growing! We are delighted to introduce our new in-house architect Josh Wood as we continue to increase the capacity of our full Design & Build service.
Josh is a qualified and registered Architect with over eleven years combined work and education experience. He started his path into architecture with a mission to design and procure truly sustainable buildings. This led him to UWE and the first course in the UK to combine environmental engineering with architecture with a focus on sustainable, passive design. Winning awards in this area, Josh has gone on to become part of sustainability teams at both large and small architectural practices in Bristol. With a fondness for craftsmanship, Josh has spent the last three years working for an up-and-coming practice designing contemporary oak framed houses. During this time he has lead many domestic projects smoothly from start to finish specialising in offering clients a comprehensive turnkey service.
Josh has designed and built his own Tiny Home which he has lived in for three years and will soon be featured on TV. He enjoys using his hands and hiking absurdly long distances in remote parts of the world!
Did you know we are also regional installers of WARMCEL insulation? It's pretty amazing stuff. It surpasses building regulations standards and meets the high performance requirements of Passivhaus and energy-efficient construction. We partner with PYC Group who have put together this video explaining what it is and why you should consider using it for your timber-frame build:
Thanks to all who attended our site visit in Colerne last week. We enjoyed the opportunity to discuss this near-Passivhaus project with attendees and answer some interesting questions. Feedback was positive and everyone seemed to enjoy the opportunity to tour the building, which is at structural/first fix stage. Huge thanks to Piers Sadler, The Green Register for co-organising this event and of course the clients!
We have begun work on this contemporary low energy house on a garden plot in Bristol, designed by Emmett Russell Architects.
On this occasion, we are acting as principal contractor and working with architect, engineer and energy consultant to ensure the final product meets the design criteria in every way.
The house will have a super insulated timber frame structure sitting on a conventional concrete raft/trench fill foundation. Walls will be finished with a combination of local rubble pennant stone on the ground floor and render above, with the roof finished in traditional standing seam Zinc.
Typical of houses that we have built in the last few years this house has not only been designed to near Passivhaus standards, but also uses natural (non petrochemical) products wherever practicable and is looking to the future for its energy supply and ways of living.
• Very little space heating required
- cheap to run
- very comfortable
• U values below 0.13
• Airtightness of less than 1 acph
• Minimal cold bridging
• High quality MVHR unit with rigid Lindab ducting
• Careful consideration to maximizing solar gain and eliminating solar overheating
• Photo voltaic panels with potential for battery add on later
• Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP) instead of a gas boiler providing hot water and heating
• Electric car charging point provision
The house is scheduled for a January 2020 finish - keep an eye on our website and Instagram for site updates
On 15th March we'll be collaborating again with The Green Register opening up our site at Eastrip Lane, Colerne for a Futureproof site visit and talk about this contemporary three-bedroomed timber frame house built to Passivhaus standards.
The topics discussed in this tour and talk - materials used, MVHR, airtightness and methods of construction - are just as relevant to retrofit as new build projects.
The building is timber frame constructed on site from 360mm timber I-beams and wrapped in 100mm Pavatex woodfibre boards. The external faces will be either render or geometric cement sheet panels, whilst the roof is anthracite corrugated cement sheet. Windows are from Internorm (Passivhaus certified). All walls and roof will be insulated with Warmcel 500 Cellulose insulation.
The building is still under construction and so during the visit, it will be possible to see all aspects of the building fabric: air tightness layers, MVHR ducting, timber frame and Pavatex wood fibre.
Places are limited. Visit The Green Register website for full details and to book online.
There was a good turn out in Bristol on February 27th for the Futureproof training - a collaborative event between ourselves and The Green Register.
The afternoon was a good mix of talks and practical demonstrations, with some very positive feedback at the end. Attendees were mostly builders - our target audience.
Richard and Malcolm gave a short talk about sustainable building and It was great to see the Earthwise project again and to see them achieve an impressive air tightness result - well done guys!
Here's to more regular training events aimed at builders - green builders!
Urgent Government intervention is required and the construction industry must remove its head from the sand - our to Committee On Climate Change UK Housing report
For those of us promoting sustainable building for decades, the recently published Committee On Climate Change (CCC) report UK Housing: Fit For The Future? says nothing new. The report is hardly as radical as some suggest - it describes what we at Greenheart Sustainable Construction are doing right now, and have done for nearly two decades.
There is clear demand for this type of building approach, and we suggest it is time the Government and the industry moved into the 21st century and took this seriously.
Greenheart Sustainable Construction have been building gas-free, low-energy, timber frame, super-insulated homes for some time now. Since 2000, we have built above and beyond the current regulations, researching and implementing new and progressive construction methods and technologies. The knowledge and products are available - Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP) and Solar PV to induction hobs and LED lighting - but remains a small niche part of the wider industry, which is sadly resistant to change.
Government funding and intervention is urgently required. Without this, the industry will continue to build to a level that struggles to meet current regulations - let alone building for a sustainable future. We suggest:
The building sector itself must also take greater responsibility for the performance gap. A more regulated, professional, educated workforce is desperately needed. We at Greenheart, along with pioneering training organisation The Green Register, are currently promoting such education for construction professionals.
An enormous cultural shift is required but without this the words in the CCC report will come to nothing. If we all play our part we can construct a greener future.
We are delighted to be teaming up with The Green Register once again to offer an Introduction to Sustainable Construction - the first of a series of half-day Futureproof training events, which are run 'By Builders For Builders'.
We'll be returning for a second look at the new build housing scheme for Somewhere Housing Association in Bedminster, Bristol. Alongside fellow local contractors Earthwise, we will talk about how our method of working results in high quality, sustainable buildings, satisfied clients and proud builders
Ian Mawditt of FourWalls will be testing the building with a blower door test and there will be a demonstration showing how to use a thermal imaging camera to identify cold bridges.
Tom Heywood from The Green Building Store will be giving a Q&A session on the MVHR system that Earthwise have installed.
For full information, and to book a place please visit The Green Register website
Work continues at Hill House in Bath. All the groundworks are now complete, which were always to be the biggest challenge in getting the house built. We needed to provide level access from the road on to the site which was 3m lower. To add to complications the site is sloping steeply and was also close to the adjacent Georgian house. We have used a combination of retaining structures, underpinning and strip foundations to tame the site!
The carpenters are now on site to get the frame going - a 360mm thick engineered timber wall for exceptional U-values and breathability, with a continuous airtight membrane to the inside of the frame to guarantee air quality, efficient heating, and a comfortable living environment for the clients.
Feb 2019 - steels going in:
January 2019 - ready for the timber frame:
December 2018 - house slab prep and pour:
November 2018 - Comflor pour, dig out and site logistics
October 2018 - parking area ComFlor prep:
My reasons for leaving are numerous. The main reason being that it's time to do something else whilst I still have the energy and enthusiasm for a fresh project. So to all of you who think I'm going to be swanning around, sitting in cafes and playing golf (I don’t play golf) then you are (mostly) wrong!
Since leaving school I have always been involved in building. Although I had a few wayward years trying to find out what I wanted to do, I inevitably found myself back on the building track. When I arrived in Bristol I got work with Greenleaf Building Cooperative, where I met Bill. Unfortunately our relationship was short as he was off to Nicaragua and it was some years later when we met again, both finding ourselves at an impasse in our career paths. Bill, a qualified architect and skilled carpenter, was looking for something new and exciting to put his efforts into, and although I had just finished a Masters at Bristol University in Architectural Conservation my real passion still lay in 'hands on' building. This was also about the time that 'Eco-building' was becoming very popular. Low impact buildings using straw, timber, lime and clay - natural materials with minimal embodied energy - was all the rage! We were also inspired by Keith Hall who was promoting Eco building via his organisation and magazine, the AECB.
We set up Greenheart with the express intent of only working on projects that have a significant green agenda. We were busy carrying out small scale 'eco' projects but often it’s about being in the right place at the right time and so it was with us. The Yard project in St Werburghs was just taking off and we were lucky enough to be asked to build one of the houses - then another, then another. We learnt a lot, made mistakes, discovered some great new materials (and some bad ones) but mainly it gave Greenheart the confidence needed to move on and establish ourselves as one of very few Green Builders in the Bristol area.
Fast forward to 2018 (Bill left some years ago and Richard Hatfield became co-director, an essential part of changing and growing the company), Greenheart has now grown into a Design & Build company with a great reputation and a specialism in low-energy, energy efficient new build houses. As ever with any organisation its all about the people who work for and with you, and without the team the business would not exist. This has always been an important factor for me and one of things I tried to achieve over the last twenty years of Greenheart is to challenge and change the public perception of builders and vice versa, builder’s perception of construction as a career. This is something I hope to be involved in over the next few months working alongside The Green Register to deliver training CPD seminars aimed primarily at builders.
I am really happy with how things have worked out. We have created a friendly, easy going yet professional atmosphere within the company and I would like to think those involved feel part of the team rather than just a worker.
We have made some significant and positive changes recently, both in the office and on-site and Greenheart is in safe hands with the future looking bright Green!
- Malcolm McMahon
Richard and Malcolm enjoyed a lively discussion and presented 'a builders perspective' at The Green Register's sold-out Building With Timber event on 6th December in Bristol.
A full day of talks and illustrated case studies celebrating timber in all its myriad uses in construction took place with speakers including architects, contractors, community self builders, engineers and technical detailing experts.
"It was a really interesting and thought-provoking conference, with an informal, friendly atmosphere" said Malcolm afterwards.
Our Passivhaus project in Nailsea, near Bristol, has been certified a Passive House Plus by WARM / Passive House Institue, with fabulous airtightness results (see certificate, below). Well done to all involved! Keep an eye on our project page for photos and full project details, coming soon.
Great to see our Pitchcombe Gardens deep retrofit project featured in Bristol 24/7 magazine recently, with kind words from client Ian Mawditt of Four Walls: “We had a good experience with Greenheart – they took on board exactly what we needed and put our requirements ahead of their own timetable. Quality was important to them all the way through.”
Also fabulous to learn that the clients have slashed their gas bills by 90%!
Read the full artice here
It's all kicking off in Colerne! Groundworks have begun on a three-bedroom, timber-clad home in rural Wiltshire, that will be built to Passive House standard.
This is a Greenheart In-House Design & Build project, implementing the Passive House Planning Package. The house will be timber-framed and WARMCEL insulated and - we hope! - complete by next summer.
It was an exciting day for clients Terry and Frank at our Passive House project in Nailsea this week, as they met with Richard Simon, Director of Solarsense and energy consultant Piers Sadler to hand over the renewables package prior to commissioning and learn how the various elements of the system work, using the latest technology.
The package includes a whole roof integrated 7.3KW PV system, a Mitsubishi air source heat pump with thermal store and the latest TESLA battery – Powerwall 2 - for storage.
Once registered with TESLA all the data can be monitored via an App on a smartphone, laptop or tablet.
The house, which achieved preliminary air test results of 0.27ACH back in February is almost complete and ready to be signed off as a certified Passivhaus - the first in the wider Bristol area.
We have started work on Hill House, a timber-framed, WARMCEL-insulated family home which will boast four bedrooms, three bathrooms and far-reaching views across Bath and the surrounding countryside.
Our experienced team have already started the complex groundworks - which involve ground retaining walls and underpinning existing structures - on the steep, tight site, which is the clients' current garden. The clients can look forward to moving into their new Passivhaus-standard home in around twelve months time, enjoying spacious open-plan living with bedrooms downstairs and living quarters upstairs, to maximise enjoyment of the views down the valley.
The house will have a car-charging port, Thin Film PV Panels applied to the metal standing Seam roof and an air source heat pump providing heating and hot water. The finishes will be Larch, Breathable Render and Cotswold Stone.
Lots of hard work ahead on this exciting eco home that has been thoughtfully designed by CaSA Architects and Greenheart.
See above for how it WILL look... and below for how it looks at this early stage!
Glen Cottages is a two-storey extension project we completed last year just outside Bristol, transforming an old stone cottage. Read all about it and see more photos here.
The sedum roof is now on at Woodlands Eco Home in Gloucestershire and looks fantastic -great work from all the team and Poole Single Ply Roofing Systems!
Sustainable Design & Build in Bristol and Bath, specialising in Passive House construction