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Self-Build Shortlisted For Green Award

By Katie Anderson on June 15, 2011

An environmentally friendly home in the South East of England has attracted the attention of LABC, an organisation representing “local authority building control departments in England and Wales”.

Robert and Gillian Schifreen built the property within two years of Gillian spotting a derelict bungalow on her way to work. After tracking the owner, Gillian purchased the plot of land and commissioned Michael Hall, a local architect, to work alongside her to design and build the house.

Robert, meanwhile, put his computing expertise to good use by designing a central computer system for the property, which comprises no fewer than 24 ethernet access points in preparation for a future of high-speed internet connectivity.

What is remarkable about Gillian and Robert’s self-build, aside from the fact that it looks relatively normal and has been future-proofed, is that it does not feature a central heating system of any kind.

Built with Structurally Insulated Panels, Holly House, as it has been named, boasts triple glazing, good insulation and an advanced ventilation system that runs underground and ensures the home maintains a comfortable temperature of approximately 18 degrees centigrade – regardless of the weather conditions outside. A wood-burning stove in the central living area provides the only source of direct heat.

The house also features solar panels (12 square metres in total), which heat substantial quantities of water during the spring and summer months; in fact, the Schifreens’ new home heats so much water during the summer that a swimming pool had to be installed to utilise the excess. Holly House also features energy saving LED lighting, an induction hob and mechanical heat recovery system.

Explaining why the home does not include solar PV panels for generating green electricity, Gillian said: “I had to do about two years of research to put together all the systems which we included in the build. We had hoped to include solar PV to provide electricity, but for various reasons we couldn’t go ahead. However, we are hoping to have a ground mounted array in the near future”.

Gillian and Robert’s self-build is so impressive that LABC has shortlisted the building for the Best Technical Development in the South East award.