Civilisation is in the midst of a transition to a post-hydrocarbon era. Dial Corner provides an opportunity to adapt to this emerging future. The future challenge is to live without resort to fossil fuels for power, transportation and heating. To decarbonise our homes we need to operate them free of their reliance on fossil-fuels. Read more “A Unique Property: Dial Corner Building Plot For Sale”
Howgate Close is a standout eco home project located in the picturesque countryside of Nottinghamshire. Learn more about the story behind it by watching the interviews in this video, or read our previous article on the project for further details. Read more “Interviews at Howgate Close Eco Homes”
Dial Corner is an innovative building project to create a fossil fuel free dwelling in Norfolk, creating an opportunity to construct in a totally different way and create a home with no energy bills and in harmony with the natural world.
In this update video, Dr Jerry Harrall discusses the Howgate Close eco home project at the CLA 2021 National Conference, held in Westminster, London. Read more “CLA Guided Tour of Howgate Close, December 2021”
CLA’s 2021 National Conference ‘Towards Net Zero’ (QEII Conference Centre on Thursday 2nd December at Westminster) provided an intense 6.5hrs, over 5 sessions, delivered by 14 speakers with 550 delegates in attendance listening to “a font of pragmatism”. Read more “Local Homes For Local People: Howgate Close”
Perhaps nowhere in the UK is the process of decarbonisation at a settlement scale more apparent in the built environment than in the Nottinghamshire village of Eakring. Once the country’s largest inland oilfield, it’s now generating enough renewable electricity locally to power the village several times over. Seventy years after the last drop of oil was extracted, Eakring is expanding with nine fossil-fuel-free homes, ‘Howgate Close’. Read more “Eakring, Nottinghamshire: A Story of Transition”
“By practical example, to act as a catalyst for change towards ecologically sound and sustainable ways of living.” That’s an excerpt from Hockerton Housing Project’s (HHP) 1995 Mission Statement. The designers of Howgate Close for twenty-four years have been living an autonomous lifestyle in the UK’s largest collection of earth-sheltered dwellings. Read more ““…ecologically sound and sustainable ways of living.””
18th August 2021
“…trapping and storing the sun’s energy”
– Brenda and Robert Vale
The nine dwellings of Howgate Close are designed to operate free of fossil-fuels, deliver low to no heating bills while maintaining steady state internal air temperatures.
Achieving a ‘zero-heated’[i] status, requires the application of passive solar design[ii] techniques allied with a high thermal mass superstructure and a super-insulated envelope. Empirical data[iii] supports the premise that high thermal mass buildings can significantly reduce heating loads together with a concomitant reduction in green-house gas emissions.
The passive solar design techniques applied at Howgate Close are millennia old. Troglodytes selected caves with southerly entrances, Neolithic settlers built dwellings on the southern shores of Skara Brae, Orkney Isles and Saxon farmers orientated barn openings for threshing and drying. These intuitive building design decisions of orientation and material selection were instrumental in heating, cooling and ventilating ancient buildings.
Modern day champions of passive solar design, are Architects, Professors Brenda and Robert Vale. Their extensive Cambridge University research led to the 1975 publication ’The Autonomous House[iv] which elicits “trapping and storing the sun’s energy”[v]. Putting these techniques in to practice, the Vales converted their Witcham Toll family home, described in their book, ‘The Self Sufficient House’. Later in 1991, they optimised these techniques in their Southwell home (7miles from Howgate Close) of which a forensic account is given in ‘The New Autonomous House’. The Southwell home builder, Nick Martin, commissioned the Vales to design the Hockerton Housing Project (HHP) which later became the architectural precedent for Howgate Close.
The four basic principles of passive solar design;
- Southerly building orientation – optimizing solar gains for heating, lighting and ventilation
- Selective Glazing locations – maximising glazing on the south elevation for solar gains, reducing glazing to the north, east and west to reduce heat loss
- High thermal mass structure – using dense building materials to act as a large storage radiator, stabilizing internal air temperatures
- Super-insulation envelope – which reduces the rate of heat loss from the buildings while increasing their capacity for retaining stored heat.
Howgate Close delivers.
[i] DETR. 1998. Building A Sustainable Future. General Information Report 53. P13
[ii] SZOKOLAY, S.V. (2007) Introduction to Architectural Science: The basis of Sustainable Design
[iii] HARRALL, J. (2014) Reservoirs of Heat: The defining characteristic of high thermal mass buildings.
[iv] VALE, Brenda & Robert. (1975) The Autonomous House: design and planning for self-sufficiency
[v] VALE, Brenda & Robert. (1975) The Autonomous House: design and planning for self-sufficiency
4th August 2021
A rhetorical question asked by Professor Ian Rotherham when recently introduced to ‘Howgate Close’ by Dr Chris Parsons.
‘Howgate Close’ offers many solutions, not least attending to recent issues raised by the European Environment Agency.
“Agriculture has high impacts on the environment and the climate…...farmers can play a key role in maintaining and managing Europe’s biodiversity. They are also a critical component of the rural economy….. impacts on the environment and its socio-economic importance for many communities.”
‘Howgate Close’ attends to some of these issues while offering a replicable model providing;
- generational investment for farms
- local housing for local people
- biodiversity by re-wilding
- community access to woodland pasture meadows
It is accurate to describe Howgate Close’s 10acre development site as having ‘no net biodiversity loss’ instead, a ‘net biodiversity gain’.
Dr Parsons inspiration for the project was in part, tackling local community concerns to changes in their immediate surroundings e.g.
- Living in close proximity to intensive industrialised farming i.e. agrochemicals effects on health and wildlife
- Restricted access to open-countryside with increased intensive land use
- Erosion of biodiversity and wildlife.
- An absence of wildlife sites close to communities
Under-construction on part of the 10 acre site are nine homes with exceptionally low lifetime embedded carbon, dwellings whose functional lifetime will be measured in centuries rather than decades.
The ‘Howgate Close’ business model facilitates funding in-perpetuity for; property upkeep, maintenance of woodland pasture meadow while securing renewable energy for generations, into the emerging post-hydrocarbon era.
Integral to the model is Dr Parsons self-imposed Section 106 Agreement with the Newark & Sherwood District Council to retain properties in rent for a minimum of 15 years and exclusively for local people. If ever sold, the dwellings can only be sold for 80% of market value in-perpetuity.
Professor Ian Rotherham described Dr Parsons stewardship of Eakring’s landscape, as;
“A vote of faith in the future”
Is then, ‘Howgate Close’ a third way?
Is this a way of creating a ‘wood-pasture meadow’ for every village in England?
Indeed, will other farmers take up the model?
22nd July 2021
Literally describing ‘Howgate Close’ by numbers gets us closer to a formulaic solution for replicable rural housing.
Dr Chris Parsons project, Howgate Close, will deliver 9 rented homes with accommodation for up to 23 local people. His development takes 10acres out of agriculture to deliver 9 single-storey privately rented dwellings with access to 8acres of managed wildlife area. His aim is to provide exceptional energy efficient homes (SAP Rating 142A) with low running costs for some of the local 415 population (Census 2011) Many of whom who have been priced out of local home-ownership with average Eakring house prices at £405,129 an increase of 12.35% since June 2020.
As a second-generation farmer of 1,500acres, whose family have been farming in Eakring, Notts, since 1939, Dr Parsons is looking to create a commercially viable rural housing template for other UK farmers to adopt.
One of the project’s legacies, will be its contribution to generational settlement growth, increasing Eakrings’ circa 200 households by 4.5% with a potential concomitant 5.5% population increase. This growth is facilitated by an additional 14 bedrooms from 5no. 2bedroom and 4no.1bedroom dwellings with a total floor area of 474m2.
Another lasting contribution for the households, is an accelerated transition to a post-hydrocarbon era. Collectively, the 9 homes will generate annually around 50,000kWhrs of renewable electricity from 138 roof mounted photovoltaic (PV)panels. It’s estimated, each home will generate 50% more energy than they consume due in part to their low rates of heat loss (Building U-Value 0.16W/m2K) These super-insulated fabrics are achieved with 968sheets (246 cubic metres) of Ravago’s ‘Ravatherm’ extruded polystyrene insulation boards (Lambda value 0.027W/mK) enveloping the entire building.
Third party verification of the project’s exceptional energy efficiency and carbon mitigation standards, is provided by Elmhurst’s SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure) calculation which have produced Ratings of 131A and 142A. Once registered, these EPC’s can accurately be described as ‘one in a million’.
Other Useful Information:
Planning Authority Newark & Sherwood District Council: https://www.newark-sherwooddc.gov.uk
Builder: Eagle Building Specialists: https://www.eaglebuildingspecialists.co.uk
Photovoltaics: Cambridge Solar: https://www.cambridge-solar.co.uk
Project Manager: Ian Walton firstname.lastname@example.org
Design SAP Calculation: Elmhurst Energy Service: https://www.elmhurstenergy.co.uk
Structural Defects Warranty: ICW http://i-c-w.co.uk
Turton Building Control: http://www.turtonbc.co.uk
Hardwick Windows: https://www.hardwickwindows.co.uk
Electric underfloor heating Gaia: https://www.gaia.co.uk
Technical Consultant Dr Jeremy Harrall www.drharrall.com