In 2007, a recently built four-bedroom house in Gravesend, near Albury was initially used as a public demonstration project of how environmental features can be used to good effect. The home was built and funded by a private developer working with East Herts Council.
The walls are made of recycled bricks, second-hand tiles have been used on the roof, and the timber frame is low energy and provides high insulation.
Wide cavity walls are packed with Warmcel – recycled newspapers treated with boron salts and gypsum to reduce flammability.
There are two types of solar panel – a 2.8 Kw photovoltaic array which heats the hot water and large panels that produce more than half the house’s electricity.
There is a back-up mains supply and a heat recovery ventilation system keeps the house warm by removing the moisture from the hot, moist air in the bathroom and transferring the heat into the dry air coming from the outside, which is pumped into the downstairs bedrooms.
Fossil fuel central heating is not required, and there is a log-burning stove for the coldest weather.
A UV filter, plus three other filters, recycle rainwater collected in two tanks for toilet flushing, washing machines and showers; 80% of a typical household’s water use. In the garden a mini-sewage treatment tank degrades waste solids to a harmless effluent.
Energy use is very low because of good insulation and energy saving devices in the home.