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Having just completed my masters in Chemical Engineering I had a decision to make. Should I continue to work for companies like BP and AstraZeneca, following a typical high flying corporate career, but waking up each morning feeling like I am missing a little bit of my soul? The answer for me was to find a career that provided job satisfaction in knowing that I would be directly helping people and the environment. When deciding upon a low risk business model for my new sustainability consultancy we devised a route to market that utilised a show home. This enabled us to fully understand the market from the perspective of our clients. It forced us to test each of the hundreds of products required to create an eco retrofit home, to fully understand the complexities involved. The Sustainable Energy Academy helped us to satisfy the public demand for eco educational facilities, providing the incentive and guidance to organise open days. Public interest was reflected by the attendance of over 500 people during our first year.
Now the home is complete we are benefiting from annual gas bills of £150 and annual electricity bills of £400. We have remarkably comfortable year round temperatures regally receiving comments from visitors along the lines of:
“Wow your house is so warm you must have put the heating on! I don’t believe that you haven’t put the heating on since February, its October!”
The general levels of maintenance are now unbelievably low, all the systems have 20+ year life spans, bringing down running costs and inconvenience. The design focus for the show home was on passive technologies, in fact bar a single room wood burning stove there are no renewables installed at all. The house uses standard A rated gas boiler and no heat pumps.
A big worry of potential converts to eco style living is any negative effects that ‘cutting back’ may have on their lifestyle. The over whelming result from our experience has been nothing but beneficial to our lifestyle.
The original concept behind the space we dub ‘The Solarium’ was to act as an area capable of capturing solar energy, storing it and distributing it as necessary both across space i.e. from the south to the north of the building and across time i.e. from midday to midnight. Additionally this was a critical area from an interiors perspective as it meant a joining of spaces designed today and those designed a century ago. To ensure the continuity of space was not broken by a lack of contiuity of design it required the original space to be modernised and the new space to be minimised, ensuring no severe contrast of style.