Green Building Blog

low cost eco-building

NEW REPORT: Low Impact Communities in Britain March 27, 2012

I have recently given several talks around Britain about how we can encourage the building of more low impact communities. I have collated the talks into a short report on the topic, available here as a PDF: Low impact communities in Britain.

The report identifies three key types of barrier to low impact communities: political, economic and cultural, and outlines what these barriers entail and some possible solutions. It also outlines four different case studies, and some other issues which are important to consider when encouraging eco-housing. Finally, the report outlines common pitfalls and the best way to successfully build low impact communities, which I argue involves:

      1. Use hybrid materials or straw bale
      2. Have a mutual housing ownership or a rental model
      3. Build collectively
      4. Have a pioneer and a risk taker driving project
      5. Share key infrastructure, by having a co-housing organisational structure
      6. Build on ‘marginal’ land or remove land from the market mechanism
      7. Build small with an open plan design
      8. Use locally available materials
      9. Minimise use of technology
      10. Plan long-term maintenance
      11. Establish strong community agreements
      12. Have a good simple passive design

 Please share the report freely and I would welcome any comments.

[27th March, Leicester]


Lectures on eco-housing March 14, 2012

I have recently been teaching the environmental geography of eco-housing to final year undergraduate geography students here at the University of Leicester (Britain). It has been a fun process of trying to organise my thoughts and recent research into a coherent story. I am not sure if they are of interest or use to anyone beyond the classroom, but in case they are I have attached them here. They are designed as two-hour long lectures and there are no additional notes – I tend to talk around each slide. So they are quite long.


The topics are:

1. Ecohousing and architectural geographies

2. Politics of building

3. Low Impact Development

4. Transition, scale and replication

Please note: I do not have copyright permission for some of the images included in these slides. The majority of them are mine, but some have been borrowed from online so please do not use them without returning to the original source.

I am publishing the slides online under creative commons, so please feel free to use and evolve the ideas and material included here.

As always any feedback and comments would be most welcome.

[14th March, Leicester]


Interesting seminar about eco-housing held at Leicester University October 3, 2011

Filed under: Britain,Project outputs and findings,Talks and lectures — naturalbuild @ 7:03 pm

At a recent event (held on 29th September 2011) at Leicester University (UK) – ‘Building new collaborations in eco-housing research and practice’ – there was extensive inspiring discussion about the future of eco-housing. Talks included understanding young people’s perspectives of new ‘sustainable’ urban design and the user experiences of environmental technologies. Others explored whether kit, people or places are the most important things to consider when building, and what we could learn from understanding self-built low cost eco-housing, like the one pictured here in New Mexico, USA.

Each talk incorporated a different approach to understanding eco-housing – cultural understandings of what houses and homes mean, children’s geographies, architectural perspectives and scientific understandings.

The speakers

It was a truly interdisciplinary event with participants from the disciplines of civil engineering, anthropology, architecture, environmental science, geography, urban affairs and planning, and practitioners from social housing groups and climate change action groups. Productive and fruitful discussion was had as ideas and different experiences and perspectives were shared in the final panel and roundtable session.


Roundtable discussion about the future of eco-housing

Thanks to everyone who attended and I hope that these conversations will be continued and new research collaborations will emerge. I hope to post up links to the talks (which were recorded) soon.

[Leicester, 3rd October 2011]