Building For A Better Future Whilst Preserving The Past

Bedford Park house becomes a greener home thanks to eco-makeover

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Living in a listed building or a conservation area means that making any improvements to your home – even green ones – aren’t that simple. Peter Murray lives in both, but thanks to Green Homes Concierge Service, has developed ways in which to alter his home for a better future while preserving the past.

Peter and his wife Jane Wood believe in not only respecting the environment, but also the area in which they live. As well as being instrumental in conserving the character of Bedford Park, Britain’s first garden suburb and a conservation area, Jane and their daughter Sophie are responsible for protecting and rejuvenating the seaside town of Littlehampton, the family’s weekend home.

The family had been meaning to make energy-saving changes to their 19th-century Grade II home for some time, but had lacked direction. Green Homes Concierge Service helped them focus on what and how to improve their energy use through simple but highly effective changes.

“The first thing I’m going to do at their suggestion is to improve insulation by filling the roof space with sustainable materials and by installing secondary glazing,” said Peter, the Honorary Secretary of the Bedford Park Society. “This is as effective as double glazing but without the impact on the look of the original window frames, which is crucial in a conservation area. People have to be very careful about what work they carry out, but Green Homes have been very informative in assessing how to take energy-saving measures while retaining the original features.”

The detached house dates from 1884, when houses were built without cavity walls. “They are surprisingly thick,” said the writer and commentator on architectural issues, “but nevertheless isn’t as effective at retaining heat as a cavity wall. A way around this is through having thin insulation on exterior walls where it will have no impact on traditional detailing. I’ll also change to a combi-boiler when the time comes to maximise energy saving.”

Creating bespoke solutions to the homeowner’s individual circumstances is the keystone of Green Homes Concierge Service’s work, but sometimes the homeowner comes up with innovative solutions too: “At a later date, I’ll probably install solar panels,”, said Peter, “but this will require some thought as they can’t be visible from the road. There must be some way I can use PV {photovoltaic} panels in the garden, perhaps on the fence where they can’t be seen from the road – or I might commission a sculpture that will be covered in the panels so I have a decorative and practical feature in one.”

The director of the new London Architecture Centre and the London Festival of Architecture, Peter will be recommending the service to the architectural community as well as the wider one: “I’ve already added the service to the Bedford Park residents’ report, a guide to living in a conservation area and listed buildings, and will certainly be recommending it. It’s given me the impetus to implement the ideas I’d had for some time, and has helped me see where I can make savings around the home.”

September 12, 2008