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Extensively renovated 1890s Oxford Semi
1980 Semi

We have ecologically renovated our house incorporating both the large scale and the small scale, from installing solar thermal panels and a gas condensing modulating boiler to employing a passive stack ventilation system. Our eco-renovation has however not been without it trials; our wish to build a sun-trap has so far met with refusal from the planning authorities. As a sun-trap would constitute a significant force in reducing our domestic carbon footprint, we hope to ultimately succeed in persuading the local authorities of the project's viability and necessity.

Vital Statistics

This property was built between 1700-1920. It is a semi-detached house with 4 bedrooms, located in an inner-city area in the South East. The household is a family with lodger, with an average occupancy of 4 all year round. No planning restrictions are in effect.

Latest case studies:

Annual Energy Use

(No energy use data is currently available for this ecovation.)

About us and why we did it

We are Craig Simmons, Elise Benjamin and daughter Berenice.

Given that housing in Britain constitutes between 27 and 31 per cent of the country's emissions, and that most people cannot afford nor have access to ecologically designed new-builds we wanted to use our house to demonstrate what could be achieved with the existing housing stock, and in our case in a house which is on the edge of conservation area. Housing must be improved (and thus renovated) to face the challenge of climate change, and in particular we wanted to prove that it's possible in an urban setting. In many respects it is far easier to reduce one's carbon footprint in an urban area due to the conveniences of extensive public transport and the ease of reaching destinations on foot or by bike.

Heating and Power

We have installed solar hot water and a gas condensing modulating boiler.

Using solar hot water and a new highly efficient gas condensing modulating boiler we have managed to decrease our heating bill substantially with 70% of our heated water now coming from solar thermal heating.

We have also installed two wood burning stoves which provide enough warmth when the weather is mild and act as a consistent source of background heat. 

As a further attempt to heat our house in an ecologically sustainable way we wanted to build a sun space. However, and to our great frustration, our planning application was turned down by the local planning authorities. We appealed against this decsion with BIll Dunster, the architect who designed the sun space, was also rejected, depsite the fact that a sun space would significantly reduce our energy use for domestic heating, with a 15% projected decrease in our winter heating bills. Nevertheless we refuse to be disheartened, and are optimistic that as we have rigorous and established plans drawn up for a sun space we will ultimately persuade the planning authorities that far from being to the detriment of the building and area such an addition to the house would in fact bring substantial benefits.


Cavity wall insulation has been used in our extension. However our solid walls would require external wall insulation, the expense of which has so far been prohibitive.

The cavity walls in the extension have been filled. However, due to the immense expense of insulating solid walls we have not as yet pursued such modes of insulation. Some of our windows also remain single-glazed, but where we have double-glazed we have used extremely high-quality glazing. Our loft has been very well insulated, whilst the extension has been insulated to two times the building rate.

© Climate Outreach Information Network, 2006-2007
Design - AHG