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!
The scaffolding is coming down and Second Fix at our Passivhaus project in Nailsea is well underway. Oak architrave and skirting boards are being fitted and the beginnings of the kitchen on this timber framed newbuild near Bristol that achieved a preliminary air test result of 0.27ach in February.
It's all go on site at our current newbuild in France Lynch, Gloucestershire at the moment!
Firstly, a visit from Darren Evans Assessments delivered an impressive air test result of 0.64ACH yesterday. This highly insulated, single-storey timber frame home has never been intended for Passivhaus certification (which requires 0.6ACH or lower) but we are very happy with this result nonetheless!
It's all systems go too with our guys installing WARMCEL insulation and preparing the roof for sedum - more photos to come.
We recently joined forces with The Green Register to offer a site visit at our current Passivhaus build on an Urban Infill site in Nailsea, near Bristol. They have put together a short video of the afternoon - click below for a taster of the event and a very chilly Richard and Malcolm talking about our commitment to sustainable building and the benefits of partnering with The Green Register for site visits like these.
Work continues at our single-storey newbuild in France Lynch. The airtight membrane is nearing completion and the triple glazed windows are now in (more photos to follow). The single ply roof is in place (thanks Poole SIngle Ply) with sedum yet to come.
Scroll for photos and original drawings for what will be a super insulated, low impact home in a wonderful spot in Gloucestershire.
We joined forces with The Green Register last week to offer a site visit to our current Passive House project in Nailsea, near Bristol.
Twenty construction professionals braved the cold to visit the Station Rd project, which isn't yet Passivhaus-certified but has already achieved an outstanding preliminary air test result of 0.27ACH. Attendees had the opportunity to look around the site, ask questions and listen to presentations from Greenheart's Richard Hatfield and Passivhaus consultant Piers Sadler.
“Richard and I were really pleased with the event - those attending seemed to find it interesting and useful to visit a Passive House project which is still under construction. This gave everyone the ability to see in “real life” how and why the house was put together” said Greenheart Director Malcolm McMahon.
We hope to run many more site visits in partnership with The Green Register in the future - watch this space!
The preliminary air test was carried out on our Nailsea Passive House project on Friday 9th February, achieving the excellent result of 0.27ACH.
The house is due for Passivhaus certification once completed but at the moment we are at first fix stage - air tight and weathertight - hence the preliminary test.
The result required for Passive compliance is 0.6 ACH @ 50 Pascals and the figure achieved was 0.27 ACH (lower is better).
This is a great result and as ever testament to the hard work and attention to detail shown by our guys on site - well done!
Richard Hatfield and Malcolm McMahon were interviewed by Richard Brown of The Property Voice recently for his regular podcast. He described Greenheart as being 'on the ground pioneering sustainable building in the real world' which we can't argue with!
Click here to listen to the guys chatting with Richard about a range of sustainable construction-related topics.
Lots going on at our Passivhaus build in Nailsea currently - underfloor heating going in, MVHR installed in the loft, with boards to hold in extra insulation. This home will be seriously snug and warm for its owners come next winter!
Sustainable Design & Build in Bristol and Bath, specialising in Passive House construction