In a tranquil slice of green belt in the rolling hills of West Yorkshire, a remarkable project has taken root; a beautifully designed, award-winning sustainable home that sits gently in the local environment and that can withstand the increasing pressure on global energy resources. Its builders, DLE Contruction Ltd, recently won the Sustainability Award at the national 2023 Master Builder Awards for the project.
The owners' concept was to create a detached eco-friendly, sustainable family home, while preserving the surrounding environment. The result is a beautifully designed home that is future-ready and offers a greener way of life.
If, like them, you’re looking to include sustainability as part of your next project, whether you’re self-building the home of your dreams from a muddy field or improving your current home, then read on. The award-winning build by FMB Master Builder DLE Contruction Ltd shows some of the features you can incorporate into your project to help your home to be in sync with the environment.
The sustainable build checklist
The home integrates cutting-edge sustainable technologies and practices, as well as some more traditional features in the home, including:
Maximising solar gains – The home is orientated to capture natural light, positioning windows to make use of the south-facing side of the plot. Maximising natural light and therefore heat, is essential to any eco-build. But so is cooling; overheating can be offset with an awning or overhang over any windows that generate too much heat.
Thorough insulation – Wall, floor and roof insulation has been over-sized to maximise the amount of heat that the building can keep in.
Triple glazing – The builders installed Velfac triple-glazed windows to the property. Our review of triple glazed windows shows they are around 40-50% more efficient than A-rated double glazed windows, so the higher cost of triple glazed windows can be worth the investment if you are building or extending.
Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery System (MVHR) – Making a building air tight and adding insulation means you need to ventilate it well to prevent condensation, damp and mould. An MVHR provides continuous fresh, filtered air with minimum impact on the energy you’ve used to heat the building.
Thermal solar panels – Similar to electricity-generating solar PV panels, solar thermal panels are roof mounted, but produce heat rather than electricity. In this project, the builders connected the thermal panels and MVHR system to power the underfloor heating.
Renewable energy – The team installed an air source heat pump as well as solar PV (photovoltaic) panels. These were backed up with a battery to provide a store of energy – for less sunny days. Including a battery with your renewable energy gives you the option of selling power back to the National Grid though a government-endorsed scheme like the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).
Rainwater harvesting system – The build team included rainwater harvesting within the grounds of the house, which provides ‘grey water’ for the washing machine and toilets. As well as having an environmental benefit to ecology, a harvesting system can reduce your bills significantly if you have a water meter.
Self-sufficiency – The clients designed the garden and included a spacious south-facing greenhouse and large walled vegetable garden to become more self-sufficient with home-grown food.
Sustainable building practices
The team at DLE Contruction Ltd made sure the build process was as environmentally friendly as the finished project. Re-using is always preferable to recycling or disposing of materials, as it uses less energy. So, they made sure that all excavation waste was retained onsite to re-use for landscaping – a simple solution that also offered a huge cost saving.
All construction waste, such as packaging, plastics, wood and metals was carefully separated and recycled at local facilities. In keeping with the local built environment, the home is built from stone, which was sourced from a local quarry, reducing the carbon footprint of transportation. In fact, the team kept to local suppliers for all materials used for this reason.
Communication is key to the success of any build
With a complex build that underwent some design changes along the way, good communication was key to the success of the project. The owners, builders and architect Sam Wilson needed to be on the same page. From the very start of the project the communication between them was very open.
The builders commented “We had numerous meetings prebuild, swapping ideas and designs that would enhance the build and budget of the project. Every detail of the build was regularly discussed with the client and the relationship between them and David from DLE was like they were part of the family.”
Their clients put this into their own words: “The property design imposed some heavy implications on the build but DLE used their skills and the necessary research to accomplish it. They were always on site managing the build, explaining the process and involving us in every aspect. They created exactly what we wanted to a high standard and found creative solutions to what we wanted to achieve."
Read our guides to solar, heat pumps and more
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