Skip to content


The Hockerton housing project is the first earthcovered, self-sufficient housing development. Self-built by the occupants, who are committed to living in a way that is environmentally sensitive, the development has no need for space heating and uses less than 25% of the energy of a conventional house.


The Hockerton development consists of a terrace of five ultra-low-energy houses incorporating a range of energy saving measures that have completely eliminated the need for space heating. The most important features are:

Building orientation - The orientation of the houses allows for maximum winter solar gain, as they have a south-facing conservatory running the full width of the dwellings.

Building fabric - Concrete is used extensively, which provides thermal mass to absorb and release solar heat gains. The houses are wrapped in 300mm insulation and have triple glazing to minimise heat losses. An earth covering to the north further reduces heat losses.

Space heating and hot water - Space heating is provided purely through the passive solar arrangement, using large areas of south facing glazing and thermal mass. Domestic hot water is provided by an air-towater heat pump located in the conservatory, which is connected to a storage cylinder.

Ventilation - In summer, houses are ventilated through a large opening light in each bay, adjacent to a corresponding light in the conservatory roof. In winter, air is extracted from the bathroom, kitchen and utility room. This is passed through a heat exchanger to warm incoming fresh air.

Renewable energy - The development has two wind turbines, which together are capable of generating 10kW of power and are estimated to produce 24,000 kWh annually.

Project team

Robert & Brenda Vale

Occupants of Hockerton Housing Project

Further information