No doubt some of you will have been thrilled by the appearance of John Laker in the 15th Sept Bucks Free Press article “How Green is Your House?” here. It may surprise you to know that we don’t know John but he looks like he is doing a great job. He challenged the readers of the Bucks Free Press to see if they had a home as “green” as his. A grand challenge. You won’t be surprised to know that we did rise to this challenge. The following is the exact text of an E:Mail sent to the BFP in reply to their challenge “Can you beat Mr Laker’s environmentally friendly bungalow?” It looks as if the BFP rapidly lost interest and never followed the story up. This was until a little (ahem) ‘manufactured’ controversy in the shape of a letter by local architect Anthony Mealing… Anyway, I digress, first our original response to the challenge in full: “Dear BFP, In this week’s BFP you asked if any could beat Mr Laker’s environmentally friendly bungalow? Well the answer is easy: yes, with bells on.
The obvious way to find the answer is to contact the two local Transition Towns in Marlow and High Wycombe. They have been working with the community for two years to ensure that every home meets or exceeds John Laker’s standards. This has been done through a combination of public education, discount schemes and publically open show homes. It isn’t clear how Mr Laker chooses to measure his “greenness” as this is a rather meaningless concept. These days we use an evidence base that is the essential tool of Transition Towns. The best measure we have is carbon-footprinting and one of the best tools is the SAP rating system that remains of the ill-fated HIPs system.
If John Laker really wishes to proclaim the greenness of his home then he faces very stiff competition in this area. Two homes come to mind. Both have been independently verified by an assessor from the SEA (Sustainable Energy Academy) at http://www.sustainable-energyacademy.org.uk/. If they can objectively measure a carbon footprint reduction on your home of 60% or more then you qualify as a “Super Home”. Perform a simple search on the Super Home database and you will find the following: http://www.sustainable-energyacademy.org.uk/superhomes/hyde-green-marlow with a 70% reduction http://www.sustainable-energyacademy.org.uk/superhomes/high-wycombe-richard-gardens with a 90% reduction I can tell you a great deal about the latter home as it is my own (pictured). Please feel free to ask questions or come and have a look. Unlike Mr Laker’s home the Super Homes are intended to be showcases of best practice that are open to the public. Both Transition Town High Wycombe and Marlow operate discount buying schemes and advice to homeowners who wish to achieve a home rated in a similar way to the one in Hyde Green or Richard Gardens. Marlow has its SP100 project to get 100 Solar roofs in the town whilst High Wycombe has its Homepower project offering a range of microgeneration products from local installers such as SolaSave in Hazlemere. All of the details of these projects can be found on our respective web sites alongside other recent news.
Only 27% of our carbon footprints come from our homes. The rest comes from our transport system, the things we buy and the food we consume. Transition Towns offer a holistic approach. We encourage relocalisation to reduce transport needs. We encourage the production and consumption of local food. We help people reduce their energy use in the home which also saves them money. To make this happen we launched Energy Saving Kits for Loan from the High Wycombe Library in August whilst in October we will launch High Wycombe’s first ever local food directory.
This way we won’t just have the title of “greenest home” in the area. Just maybe we can be the “greenest area” in Britain.”
Although ignored by the BFP, in that particular week, the Super Home project was raised in Dave Hampton’ reply to Anthony Mealing’s letter. We’ll return to this topic in our next blog.