Open Eco Homes sponsors Baufritz UK are a German system-build firm but their UK office is in Girton. Hosts Adrian and Judy loved their eco approach and quality, and worked with architects Nilsson Pflugfelder on the outline design, with advice from Baufritz. Energy use is minimised with the help of mechanical ventilation and heat recovery (MVHR) and a Solar Cache PV system that uses surplus electricity to heat water. There is a small gas boiler. Though it is little used, the boiler is connected to an underfloor heating system, which can easily be changed to an air-source heat pump if there is a need to reduce gas use further. The house is so well insulated, however, that most of the heating zones have never been turned on.
When it comes to material choice there has been a consciously strong emphasis on personal and planetary health. There is no MDF, no PVC and no toxins in the paints and glues. There are no carpets but wooden floors throughout. There is protection from electro-smog and shielded wiring throughout. One thing that might raise a vegan eye-brow is the use of whey (a by-product of the dairy industry) in the HOIZ wood fibre wall insulation. Dairy also has a high carbon footprint, although it is used here as a waste product.
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