The Nook

Lover’s Walk, Brighton

Construction Time: Seven  Months

Completion Date: February 2011

Gross Floor Area: Originally: 196m2

Construction cost: £130K

Build Rate: £660/m2 + VAT

‘U’ Values: Roof – Roof – 0.10W/m2K. Walls – 0.15W/m2K. Floors – 0.13W/m2K.

Main Contractor: Earthwise Construction

Retrofit the Future

Also see Caroline Lucas’s website here (Green party MP for Brighton)
and Hattie Hartman’s blog here (sustainability editor for the Architects’ Journal)

How do you take an energy guzzling solid brick Victorian detached villa in multiple occupation and reduce its energy demand by 80%? This was the brief for the Nook, a large period house in Brighton owned by Two Piers Housing Co-Operative. The project came about as a call for proposals from the Technology Strategy Board who were looking to award grants to around seventy properties of all shapes and sizes in the social housing sector up and down the country and monitor the results for two years to determine whether or not each project had achieved an average carbon footprint of around 17kg of CO2/m2/annum.

This figure is deemed by government experts as the average consumption figure we need our building stock to achieve if we are to meet the UK’s 80% carbon reduction targets by 2050. The project commenced on site in August 2010 and completed in February 2011. The woks were carried out with the tenants in situ for all but three weeks of the build while the most disruptive of the works were timetabled. The solution to the brief involved wrapping the outside of the building with insulation on three side and insulating the inside of the walls on the front elevation. The building was refurbished to meet demanding air tightness standards and is fitted with a mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery. A large solar thermal array, low energy lights, kitchen appliances and water efficient fittings were also part of the works.

The project team consisted of BBM Sustainable Design serving as architect with Earthwise Construction acting as the lead agent for the contract and builder for the eco-retrofit itself.

BBM who have been a leading exponent of low energy design and eco-retrofit since the mid 1990’s were able to draw on a huge range of experience in establishing the building fabric and services strategy. We worked with specialist suppliers to derive the specification of materials and apply them through carefully thought through construction details with a view to establishing the required levels of insulation and air tightness whilst designing out cold bridging and the risk of condensation forming within the structure which in turn can lead to unhealthy living environments and material defects.

We would hope that an outcome of our project would be to provide social landlords with a road map for reducing their housing stock’s carbon load incrementally by identifying a carbon versus cost analysis of retrofit measures.

We hope to provide social landlords with a road map for reducing their housing stock’s carbon load incrementally by identifying the carbon gains of each retrofit strategy.


Eco-Retrofit, Residential