I'm moving home in January - ah, how my Scotland-based friends at New Consumer laughed at the joke that is the English housing system - and am jammy enough to be buying a house. Which, as well as a cat, means a huge eco project. My plan is to make it as green as Donnacadh McCarthy's virtually zero carbon home and Penney Poyzer's incredibly trendy Nottingham eco home. To that end, I've started re-reading a list of green suppliers that I wrote about for Inside Out magazine earlier this year; hopefully it'll be of some use to you too. Click through for the list. [photo from Green Roof]
This glazing and frames 'system' comes blessed with the all-important FSC badge, which means the wood in your window frames isn't coming at the expense of a badly-managed forest. Ecoplus also strives to keep its CO2 emissions low, and uses absolutely no toxic ingredients or finishes on its windows. Smallest single window starts at £185.
Like Ecoplus, this firm's windows are made solely from FSC-certified wood, but Eco Windows takes things a step further by planting a tree around London for each window it makes. You don't have to worry about dodgy white spirit-packed varnishes either: the ones used on these frames are all water-based. Prices on application.
0208 874 4185
No windows on your landing? Dingy spare bedroom with a tiny port-hole? A Sunpipe may be the answer. Essentially a tube running from your roof into the room in question, it has a mirrored interior, reflecting and amplifying sunlight: acting like a little like a giant fibre optic cable. The £250 230mm version produces the equivalent light of roughly four of five old-fashioned, energy-wasting incandescent light bulbs. Best of all, it costs nothing to run.
A-rated timber windows
Considering windows are the second biggest escape for heating after our lofts, it's worth looking at double glazing if your panes have reached the end of their career. George Barnsdale & Sons sells the first and only timber windows that are A-rated by the BFRC, which grades windows on their heat insulation from A to G, A being the best you can buy. Forget toxic uPVC - top class wood insulation is where it's at. Price on application.
Gran was right to complain about feeling a draught - if you can feel cold air coming through closed windows in winter, you could be losing 20 per cent of your heat through draughty windows. You can pick up draught strips, sealants, brushes and the like from most local hardware shops, or order them online for as little as £1.
01904 412 354
Less ridiculous than they sound, beautiful old windows can be re-used if restored and moved by experts, much like you would with a fireplace, tiles or door. Salvo lists twelve suppliers around the country that stock reclaimed windows, which is handy as you'll need to see them in person before buying. Prices vary.
If you've got single glazed windows and can't face the cost of upgrading to double-glazed ones, thermal-lined curtains are a great way to stop your expensive heat escaping - and you can get some gorgeous drapes into the bargain. Greenfibres sells a range of organic and chemical-free materials that you can pay a local curtain company to make up.
RIKA pellet stoves
Heat your house in a relatively green fashion and get a handsome stove in return; such is the allure of wood pellet-burning stove. Made from waste wood - usually squished sawdust - the pellets burn efficiently because they're so dense and are theoretically CO2-neutral because because the tree they came from absorbed the amount of CO2 they emit when burned. RIKA's one can even be programmed via your mobile. Prices vary by size.
Sold via 0870 0545 554 www.econergy.ltd.uk
Solar thermal heating
Electricity isn't the only thing you can get from solar power. You can also fit a solar thermal system from around £3,000 upwards - depending on your roof size - that would provide 70 per cent of your hot water needs in summer. There are grants available for solar thermal, too, which is far cheaper than electricity-generating solar PV.
0800 915 0990
Grundfos ALPHA Pro
For £120, this intelligent radiator could cut the amount of electricity your radiators use by a mammoth 80 per cent a year. Most gas-powered, water-filled radiators have a conventional pump that works at the the same speed all year, no matter how cold or hot it is. Groundfos' ALPHA Pro, however, adapts to the temperature and speeds up and down accordingly, saving energy.
Ecotherm underfloor heating
It's easier to crank the thermostat down to 60oC - the Energy Saving Trust's recommended level - if your heating's evenly spread around rooms, rather than leaving cold spots left, right and centre. Underfloor heating solves that problem by heating evenly with radiation rather than convection - and it means you can go wild on the design front free of the hassle of radiators. For totally green heat, connect to a solar thermal heating system. Price varies on installation size.
01302 722 266
Eco heat pump
Imagine a source of free heat that works in the UK all year round and could heat your entire house. You're imagining a groundpump - a system of pipes buried beneath your house and filled with anti-freeze solution that take heat from the sun-warmed earth around them and transfer it up into your heating system via a pump. It can effectively replace your boiler for hot water needs, though you'll need to dig a big hole to fit one, making it ideal for new builds. Eco Heat Pump quotes according to your house size.
0114 296 2227
R H Partnership Architects
Not content with creating an office in Cambridge that won the RICS Efficient Building Award in 2005 - thanks to a natural ventilation system and loads of sunlight - this practice's director is now also director of a pioneering green self-build homes project near Brighton. Known as Earthship, the solar-powered and tyre-insulated homes take their cue from a US-born movement that aims to be sustainable and have as little impact on the environmental as possible.
020 7608 0262
Bill Dunster Architects
These architects are responsible for BedZED, arguably the most famous green housing estate in the entire country. The acronym stands for Bedford Zero Emissions Development, and lives up to its name through a combination of on-site solar cells, incredible energy efficiency - rooms are designed to get as much sun as possible - and materials sourced locally.
020 8404 1380
Michaelis Boyd Associates Architects
If you're after eco-minded architects with celebrity cachet, these are the team: they're advising David Cameron on the green makeover of his Notting Hill abode, which includes a wind turbine for electricity generation. Whenever clients are interested, they work 'towards sustainable architecture...aiming to use ecologically sound materials.'
0207 221 1237
BBM Sustainable Design
East Sussex readers will probably recognise this practice's Sparrow House, a radically modern and impeccably green house in Lewes where one of BBM's directors lives. As well as a solar thermal system for heating water, it's insulated using thick lambswool - chemical-free and without glass fibre's nasty air-borne particles. One of BBM's latest projects is the Greenwich Millennium Village, which aims to become a model for future eco living.
01273 480 533
Dedicated to eco builds, Forever Green's projects concentrate on less glamorous but incredibly effective green build methods. Past projects include a housing co-op in Brighton with mega insulation, while its new plans include ten heavily-insulated timber houses in Hornsey, London, plus a hostel for the homeless with a grass-covered 'living roof'.
Accessories & fittings
This brand of eco paint smells good enough to eat, and so it should be, considering it's made solely from plants and minerals derived from 'environmentally-managed sources.' Auro's green ethos goes right down to its production process, organically growing linseed oil near its factory for use in its paints. White emulsion starts at £14.14 for a 2.5L tin.
Billing itself as 'the world's best selling organic paint', Ecos' range is free of toxic solvents and Volatile Organic Compounds - chemicals that can vapourise under certain conditions and potentially harm human health. As a bonus, it comes in lovely shiny tins that start at £11.45 for 1 litre of white primer.
01524 852 371
A set of clay-based paints and solvent-free varnishes that, much like Auro and Ecos' ranges, will let your walls breath naturally and make decorating a joy as you need no white spirit. The company's also the proud owner of the EU Ecolabel, which means Earthborn 'cares about the environment you live in, and so cares about you.' Prices from £19.90 for 2.5 litres of white.
CFLs and LEDs
Lighting your house using a technology more than a century old is not only inefficient and polluting - it's also wasting you money. Compact Fluorescent Lights (energy-saving CFL bulbs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) use a fifth of the energy wasted by today's incandescent lighting, and can be ordered in bulk online. Natural Collection sells CFLs for £3.75 each and IKEA spotlight-replacing LEDs at £7.95 each.
Eco light shades
The £29 Coron shade from Oliver 'Changing Rooms' Heath is a beautiful spot of green design. It's made from a single piece of wool felt - naturally chemical-free material - and is even manufactured in the UK, where it's easily flat-packed for delivery to your house, where you should marry it with an energy-saving CFL.
020 7739 3888
Planting trees to offset your CO2 emissions is old news, so try planting a garden on your roof and suck up greenhouse gases at home. As well as the eco kudos, a green, living roof looks superb and provides a home for local birds and other wildlife. Insulation layers ensure you don't get roots growing through your ceiling. Prices vary by installation.
Good loft insulation's vital for a green house, but no one likes glass fibre. Instead, try Thermacell, recycled newspaper that's been treated with an anti-fungal solution and provides the same insulation levels as glass fibre at a cheap price: from £100 for a 3-bed house. Even kids can install the stuff, as it comes in compacted bundles that you break off and fit with your hands. Wool is another good green insulation alternative.
01685 845 200
Eight Inch sells unique, dazzling kitchen worktops made from an incredibly hard composite material (TTURA) made from 85 per cent recycled bottlebank glass. Its stain-proof, too. Prices depend on size, type of glass and thickness.
The evils of concrete
If you're constructing a new house, it's hard to avoid concrete. It's time, however, to ween ourselves off our addiction of the ubiquitous material made from cement, aggregates and water, since it's now responsible for an enormouse 7-10 per cent of worldwide CO2 emissions - more than the aviation industry. As the third edition of the Green Building Bible Vol 1 points out, though, there are greener alternatives, from AirCrete (cement mixed with quicklime) and Limecrete (which requires lower temperatures to make) to not using it all.
Buy stone locally, not globally
As Keith Hall of the Green Building Bible puts it, 'sourcing stone globally is insane.' In addition to the CO2 emissions generated by transporting stone from China to the UK, buying stone from the other side of the world means you have no control over the working conditions of the people quarrying it. There's no such thing as Fairtrade stone. Hall adds that 'rising fuel prices for transport should put a stop to the practice eventually'.