Why Eco Refurbishment ?
The aim of refurbishing an 'eco house' began in the mid 1990s, when Nick Parsons worked for a housing association in Sheffield. We had about 400 19th Century terraced houses, and we had started out with the aim of making them affordable to heat for people on low incomes.
Then we started building new houses, and again, paid great attention to running costs. But it's easy with new-build. By taking a few simple steps anyone can build a house which significantly exceeds the Building Regulations' thermal requirements, and which consequently costs much less to run.
If you then want to look at limiting the environmental impact of your new building, that's relatively easy too. In the early 1990s, North Sheffield Housing Association built 4 houses in Sheffield designed by famous 'Green' architects Brenda and Robert Vale. These continue to provide low-cost, environmentally-friendly living for their residents 15 years later.
Refurbishment takes a lot more thinking. We could achieve very high standards of energy efficiency, even with a house built before 1900, but it cost a lot, and it was not necessarily very 'Green'. This was the most important point. Most of us don't get the chance to build brand spanking new eco houses. We live in old houses, which are hard to heat, maybe damp, have solid walls, and all the things we think will make low running costs and 'eco-friendliness' a non-starter.
So we wanted to show everybody exactly how to get a 100-year-old house to perform like a new one, how much it would cost, and how to take a 'Green view' of everything you do when building.
We made a bid to the lottery in the late 1990s, but were turned down. For the next 7 years we plugged away till the right building came up, and then plugged away again till we had the money to refurbish it as we wished.