Grass Roof – blooming lovely

alexhunt Bright Green News, New Project

I haven’t had a chance to update our blog regarding some of our projects for ages so here we go:

We have been working on  project in Surrey for the last 9 months,the owners of this E rated (SAP rating – standard assessment procedure for the Energy Efficiency of dwellings – think of the A-G ratings seen on domestic appliances) detached home wanted to know how best to go about upgrading their home to make it more energy efficient, what they should focus their efforts on, what the overall effects would be and what they could afford.

sketch up model

using sketch up to show the clients how things will look in the future

So, they asked Alex from Bright Green Homes to visit them on site and deliver a report to outline their options, the effects of installing these measures and the likely costs involved. Alex then used Sketch up to develop the ideas and help the owners to understand the effects of the measures planned.

Grass Roof

Its only been seeded a few months but already is showing promise

Some of the jobs were ultimately fairly straightforward – Adding 200mm of Rockwool insulation to the loft space where there was only 100mm before – we used a trusted installer ( or contact us for more information) for this and received some government help towards to the cost from the CESP & CERT funding). Also, replacing existing draughty single paned windows with modern double glazed alternatives. This takes the thermal efficiency of this element from a U value of 4.5 to 1.8 (A U value measure the thermal efficiency of an element – the lower the number the better). Now, before anyone starts jumping up and down and saying that windows never pay for themselves in terms of energy saved – I agree, but there were other considerations – the windows needed replacing anyway as several of them were rotten beyond repair, the others were past their sell by date and the clients wanted less noise from the outside.

There some other more fundamental issues like what to use as a heating system, the existing house used oil filled electric radiators and had no gas. We had a moral dilemma here, because after looking at all of the options – installing gas, using alternatives like biomass, ASHPs etc. the clients themselves also added into the mix that they were buying their energy from Good Energy who are a 100% supplier of renewable energy. As they plan on being in the house for the next 25 years and feel a moral duty to support the renewable energy industry they decided to remain using electricity as their main source of energy. So, we spent a long time discussing options; heat pumps were discounted as noisy in this urban area with little scope to hide the unit far from the house, so we explored the use of Infrared panels which are more efficient than conventional heating panels and can be made to appear to be paintings on the wall or hung from the ceiling. They only heat surfaces and not the ambient air and so work more like the heat from the sun. We are still a little dubious (only because they are still electrical and the eco-renovators in us always avoid electricity if at all possible) but as they say – client is king and innovation and the renewables industry should be supported.

Also – we have insulated the roof of a groundfloor extension with PIR insulation and given it a new covering guaranteed for 25 years, then added a beautiful meadowland grass roof ( – this has just begun to flower recently (its going to be a year before it is fully formed) and already looks fantastic.

wood burning stove

Trying to find a wood burning stove that would fit with an existing fire surround that the clients wanted to keep was no mean feat

twin coile cylinder

the twin coile cylinder was fitted back in February – with the plan to have the solar thermal system added later in the year

In addition we have insulated the garage space from the rest of the house adding insulation to the ceiling (floor of the bathroom above), and the internal walls of the house. Also using a space saving techinique to insulate the bathroom above (trade secret so can’t tell you about it…) we have been working with the clients to do work to the house with the minimum amount of disruption and with only the very best installers/suppliers.

The clients used their own contractors for fitting the bathroom and the solar thermal cylinder ready for the installation of the Solar Thermal system later in the year

We have just installed a 1.75kWp Solar PV system on the roof of the house to take advantage of the 21p/kWh FIT rate that changes on the 1st August. Soon we will add a Solar Thermal system (well we use a trusted subcontractor – and we have planned things so that when the house was rewired for the IR panels the cables were installed ready for the solar installers later in the year – planning is key!

So – there are still several elements to finish (not to mention a new kitchen) but we are getting there.

Hope you find this interesting, our motto is that ecological can be economical, and we try our level best to work with the best fit solutions bearing all things into account – the lifestyle of the client, the budget, the timescale to do the work etc.. of course there is never a perfect solution (or at least not very often without vast amounts of money to spend) but we know the clients are really happy so far and we will be working with them to finsh the project by the autumn and we shall see how they get on over their first full winter with the property finished.