Julia Hailes MBE

Sustainability Pioneer


Eco developments on the map (Oct07)

The market town of Langport on the Somerset Levels has been getting some good green press in the last few months. A new development – Great Bow Yard has won a Gold Award from the Buildings for Life Scheme set up by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment or CABE for short. Ecos Homes’ terrace of low energy houses have been built on the banks of the River Perrott, which runs through the town.

As well as the houses there’s a fabulous warehouse conversion. One of the first organisations to move there is the Ecos Trust, where I’m a board member.

I went to a board meeting in the unfinished conversion. The Ecos Trust offices had real character, with cubby holes in the walls and uneven surfaces on the walls, reflecting the previous life of the building. And its eco-credentials are pretty good too, going a long way beyond the attractively designed energy-efficient lighting.

Sustainability has been at the forefront of decisions on materials used, the wood chip boiler and of course the super thick insulation.

One of the topics on our agenda was post occupancy monitoring. What? Essentially that means checking up on how much water and energy houses or offices actually use in practice.

The idea is that if you know how much you’re using and can compare it with others, this should help you reduce energy and water consumption. It certainly works for me. I love getting my electricity and water bills because I can then see the average amount I’ve used per day and see how that compares to last time. OK, so that might seem a bit nerdish, but most people find that targets help them improve.

We also discussed the Homes For Good Exhibition, which is run by the Ecos Trust (formerly the Somerset Trust for Sustainable Development). In 2007 it was at the Winter Gardens in Weston-Super-Mare but next year it will be at the Bath & West Showground on 28th and 29th March, 2008. The Exhibition will show people how buildings can be designed, built, refurbished, decorated and furnished in an ecologically sensitive way, with exhibits, stands and talks.

Sustainable living is a key part of the Trust’s work – they help support many other local organisations. What’s really staggering is how many there are – 61 on the last list I saw. These ranged from the Wedmore Green Group to the Glastonbury Environmental Network. There were four listed in Frome alone – the Solar Club, Greening Comic Relief, the Permaculture Group and the Frome Allotments Group.

So Langport’s by no means the only town in the South-West that’s getting some green press…

Originally posted by Julia Hailes on Telegraph Blogs 

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