3 Counties Local Group News

A round up of events thanks to 3 Counties Local Group Co-ordinators Ruth Busbridge and Neill Lewis


The season kicked off in May with a visit to Deb Turnbull’s house in Colwall.  The project is a deep retrofit towards Enerphit standard.  A work very much in progress, including a SIP extension with timber cladding, triple glazing, a loft conversion, hemp-lime, cork and expanded glass insulations.  This was the best-attended event of the year so far with 35 members, which gave us the opportunity of gathering ideas for the future programme of visits.


A balmy evening in July found Group members on the English/Welsh border at the Pontrilas Wetland, designed and constructed by Biologic Design Ltd. A 2 acre constructed wetland for rainwater runoff attenuation plus a new 5 acre constructed wetland to mitigate the loss of up to 14 acres of ‘prime Herefordshire agricultural land’ by covering it with a slab of concrete, more precisely additional storage space and car parking for Pontrilas Sawmills. The visit started with a walkabout, followed by a presentation on the scheme plus Wetland Ecosystem Treatment, including Biologic Design’s current Whole Site Water Reticulation and Functional Landscape work. So absorbed were we that we didn’t notice the pub staff cleaning up around us at 11.00pm, hoping we would leave soon!

Living Green
Living Green

A month later we were at Living Green, Bourton-on-the-Water.  This is a project open to the public, based on deep thinking about sustainability principles that has hoped to inspire the general public about the existing housing stock. A town-centre Cotswold stone house has been up-graded with a menu of ideas for retrofitting as well as some new-build In the hope that people would see something they could relate to their own home and garden.  Features include an extension with a grass roof, underfloor heating, solar thermal and solar pv, rainwater harvesting, organically managed garden full of wildlife, climate change awareness measures, natural paints and wood treatments to minimise toxic load in the house, clever re-using of all kinds of things (with humour), water saving measures, sheep’s wool insulation etc. etc.  Following a sumptuous meal of organic, locally produced food, the Group fell into discussion on possible changes in direction to make the scheme financially viable and left Diana [the owner] with some ideas to mull over.


In September, Group members were fortunate to make an un-scheduled visit to architect Sandy Hickey’s earth sheltered house, Applewood, in the Cotswold village of Burford. A stepped design on four levels allows the house and garden to take full advantage of the south-facing slope for light and heat. The house is of concrete construction, covered with an insulating waterproofing ‘umbrella’ that is laid over and beyond the house creating a large dry underground inter-seasonal heat store around it.  Including an indoor swimming pool heated by a ground source heat pump which also provides some of the domestic hot water and under floor heating. An MVHR unit serves both the house and the swimming pool.

The Group’s visit planned for 15th October will take us to Cirencester to see the conversion of a theatre into a Youth Hostel, to Passivhaus “Enerphit” standard, designed by Potter & Holmes Architects. It is the first Youth Hostel in the country built to the Passive House Standard and the largest Passive House certified building of its type in Gloucestershire.  To minimize condensation, the external walls are being insulated from the inside with a build up of wood fibre insulation products, which allow the building to “breathe” and thus reduce the possibility of the build up of water vapour.  The existing roof coverings are retained, and rigid insulation boards are applied between and under the existing rafters to meet the required levels.  The existing lower ground floor is being filled and the new ground floor slab will “float” on a thick layer of insulation board, which will be turned up at the edge of the perimeter of the slab. The internal layout is of a generous entrance hall with a top lit winding oak staircase lined with ash boarding with a common lounge and kitchen to one side at ground floor level, and to the other services, disabled persons adapted bedroom and other bedrooms with 30 bed spaces at first floor level.

To keep the Group warm and dry in November, there will be a social evening with a show-and- tell followed by a meal and drinks.

For more information about Local Groups and to see upcoming events, please click here.