Low Carbon Buildings

May 26, 2006

If you are looking to make some sense of energy your house uses and what grants are available for the various technologies a good place to start is The Energy Saving Trust. The UK government has a Low Carbon Buildings programme for grant funding details are available at



What’s so low Carbon about the house?

May 25, 2006

Early on we commissioned Arup to undertake a feasibility into minimising the Carbon footprint (how much Carbon dioxide is produced in heating, lighting etc) of the house. Working closely with them on the early design stages allowed us to test various options to improve the configuration of the house to benefit from passive solar gain (winter sun heating the house) and to minimise heat losses.
The Passive systems we adopted are:
A) Highly insulating the building fabric to minimise wastage of any heat put in to heat the house.
B) Orientating the living spaces of the house to the South to benefit from passive warming from the sun.

In order to further reduce the Carbon footprint we looked at various Active systems:
A) Ground coupled heat pump heating underfloor heating
B) Solar thermal heating
C) Photovoltaic solar panels to generate electricity
D) Domestic wind turbine to generate electricity
E) Low energy lighting to minimise electrictal load.
F) Rainwater harvesting

After looking at the comparative benefits of each, A), C) and E) offered the largest reduction in combination. I’ll detail what, why and how much in my next posting……

Wind turbine

Lime tree haircutting

May 22, 2006

One of the constraints, sorry, ‘delights’ of the site is a 25m high lime tree in the back of the neighbour’s garden.
Having been given planning consent only on condition we carefully protect the tree throughout the construction works, we first had we able to reduce the growth so that it wont blow over in a strong wind and land on our building.
When I went down to site to see the results the tree surgeon managed to drop a log on the head of one of his colleagues who was lying down with a cold flannel on his head and glass of water and an aspirin in his hand.
Here’s a pic of the tree post haircutt…

We find a site but it’s only 8 ft wide

May 21, 2006

We found a site in May 2005 in a quiet street in West London but there was a hitch: it was 8 ft wide and sandwiched between two adjoining buildings.
One house had sold off its side alley and part of the back garden and in the 1950’s an enterprising designer built an odd stucco fronted ‘cottage’ between two imposing neighbours.
Somewhat surprisingly we managed to find the house through a local Estate Agent, Winkworths, rather than at auction. We’d been looking for while for a ‘fixer upper’ but no one other than an architect or cavalier developer would consider this. It was in such bad condition that there was no real option other than to knock it down and start again. This decision was made easier by the insane perversity of the tax system which would have added 17.5% VAT to the cost if we had retained any part of the existing building. Knocking it to the ground and building anew is zero rated for VAT and so cheaper.

Front elevation pic


May 21, 2006

Demolitions of the existing building are well under way with the back section taken down and the rear ground level reduced. Suddenly the site seems huge. Thank goodness.
Here are a couple of pics of it coming down…Front elevation under scaffoldingRear under demolition

Welcome to Luke’s eco self build blog

May 21, 2006

Welcome to my blog of a building a new low Carbon house in West London. It’s an account of the process and the trials and tribulations of this self build and an attempt to provide a resource for others trying to do the same. Please feel free to comment and add any relevant information.

some of our other work is on our website http://www.pitmantozer.com

Front ele sketch