13 October 2014

Brighton & Hove's greenest homes open to the public

Green, energy efficient homes are the future of housing: that’s the message from this year’s Eco Open Houses in Brighton and Hove and surrounding areas, which will take place on 18-19 October and 25-26 October.

The annual event, which sees owners of some of the greenest buildings in Sussex opening their doors to the public for free, showcases the most innovative green technologies and materials currently available.

This year’s Brighton & Hove highlights include:

  • The office that used to be a toilet block, featuring ground floor insulation, food growing, rainwater collection and recycled furniture, including an old gym horse converted to a table.
  • A community centre made out of old car tyres: visitors to Eco Open Houses can have a tour of Earthship Brighton, which is made from rammed earth inside car tyres. It generates its own solar energy for heat and power, and treats sewage on site.
  • The university building constructed from waste: the internationally renowned Waste House, made almost entirely out of “waste”, including old denim and thousands of toothbrushes, will be open to the public throughout the event.
  • The natural home: a house that’s been refurbished using natural, recycled and reused building materials wherever possible.

The 19 homes and other buildings featured in this year’s Eco Open Houses range from seven new-builds to 12 lower cost refurbishments, demonstrating that you don’t have to have pots of money to make your home an eco home.

It pays to be green, too. Homes that take part in Eco Open Houses achieve an average reduction in energy use of 69 per cent. Also, they typically have lower water bills and smaller carbon footprints than the average UK home. They are generally warmer and more comfortable to live in, and are better adapted to changing weather patterns, too.

Thousands of people are expected to visit the 19 buildings and the seminar programme, which features talks on how to build and renovate using strawbales, and low-energy Passivhaus construction, featuring case studies in Totnes and Normandy. Homeowners and volunteers will be on hand to offer practical tips on how to make homes more efficient and to explain how the technologies and techniques featured work.

All visitors who complete a pledge form stating what improvements they would like to make to their own homes will be entered into a prize draw to win an energy meter or a place on an Eco Renovate Your Home course.

Cllr Phélim Mac Cafferty, chair of Brighton & Hove's planning committee, said: “Brighton & Hove has some of the most inefficient housing stock in the country, which can lead to health problems, expensive energy bills and high carbon emissions. Eco Open Houses shows us that with imagination, hard work and expert advice even the most inefficient places can be transformed into warm, efficient homes with low environmental impacts. We are proud to support this annual event, which is pioneering improvements to the city's buildings.

Mischa Hewitt, director of the Low Carbon Trust and one of the founders of Eco Open Houses, said: “This year’s event is our biggest ever and we are really excited by some of the new homes we have on the trail. With fuel bills rising and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, Eco Open Houses is an invaluable way for people to see first-hand how to make their homes and offices more efficient and less costly to run, as well as better able to cope with future changes to the climate.”

Full details of Brighton & Hove Eco Open Houses, including how to book tours of the eco homes, open house visiting times and the seminar programme, can be found in the 2014 brochure, which can be downloaded for free at www.ecoopenhouses.org.

  • Eco Open Houses is an annual collaborative project run by Low Carbon Trust, Brighton Permaculture Trust and Brighton & Hove City Council.
  • Low Carbon Trust (www.lowcarbon.co.uk) is an independent, not-for-profit organisation formed in 2001 to set up, manage and promote environmental projects; Brighton Permaculture Trust promotes greener lifestyles and sustainable development through design.
  • Eco Open Houses 2014 is run as part of the ECOBEE Project and has been selected within the scope of the INTERREG IV A France (Channel): England cross-border European cooperation programme and is financed by the ERDF.