Sustainability Guide
Launch Edition 0.0
04 Introduction
06 Priorities
07 Culture Change
08 Local Sourcing
09 Re-cycle Re-use
11 Landscape Character
12 Context
13 Principles & Cost Return
14 Checklist
Site Selection
16 Site Layout
17 Site Density
18 Building Orientation
19 Topography and Piling
Ecology and Biodiversity
21 Protection from the Elements
22 Basic Water Management
23 Sustainable Drainage Systems
24 Ground Contamination and Remediation
Flood Risk
27 Increase Insulation
29 Prefabrication
30 Rainwater Harvesting
31 Materials Specification
32 Photovoltaic Cells
33 Passive Solar Heating
34 Solar Water Heating
35 Bank Protection
36 Increased Air Tightness
37 Ground Source Heat Pumps
38 Building Management Systems
39 Heat Recovery
40 Wind Turbines
41 Small Scale CHP
42 Reed Beds
43 Biofuel
44 Reed Cutting
45 Lime
46 Straw Bale
48 Case Studies
49 Waterside
51 Hillside
53 Marshland
55 Boat Yard
28 Natural Ventilation
The Broads is one of England’s most recently designated National
Parks and its location between the fens and the ever-present
force of the North Sea represents one of the UK’s most finely
balanced habitats.The wetlands and waterways, together with the
managed planting and natural grasslands, bring nature closer into
the lives of the people who live and work there, while providing
the necessary resources to create sustainable development in
the future.
The objective of this guide is both practical and ethical to ensure
that buildings can contribute to biodiversity and a sustainable
future by using natural local resources and by creating suitable
interventions within the Broadland landscape.
The intention of this guide is not to be prescriptive but to
suggest ways in which the built environment can compliment the
sustainable balance of the Broads.
‘Our Strategy for sustainable development aims to enable all
people throughout the world to satisfy their basic needs and
enjoy a better quality of life without compromising the quality of
life of future generations.
The UK Government Sustainable
Development Strategy
The UK Government Sustainable Development Strategy
The role of buildings in the Broads is fundamental to the
realisation of sustainable development. Buildings are long lived:
they stretch into the future realm, a future of unknown resources,
pollution and climate.
50% of all resources globally go into construction.
50% of energy generated is used in their construction and use.
50% of CO
2 emission comes from buildings.
This is a fact that must be considered in the selection of building
design, materials and the processing of waste, but sustainability
is not just about saving the Earth’s resources. It is also about
economic vitality and lowering the financial burden of energy and
transport costs.
Finally, the regeneration of exciting buildings, structures and
infrastructures is vital to the retention of character and critical
mass in existing settlements, and thus plays an essential role in
ensuring healthy and sustainable social interaction.
The checklist provides a simple way of raising the level of
sustainability of development in the Broads. But in the real world
of tight budgets and timescales, best intentions can often get
lost in the execution. Effecting a cultural change in the whole
building design process is what is required. Establishing local
sourcing and connections can encourage this, which in return
can boost economic regeneration. Maximising opportunities for
redevelopment of existing buildings can encourage traditional
construction, and minimising green field development promotes
a design ethos, which is contextual and sensitive to locality.
Consider biodiversity right from the begining of a project, and
ensure that biodiversity considerations are incorporated into all
stages: planning, design, construction, and follow-up.
before after
Culture Change
A long-term shift towards sustainable development will
only come about through a combination of planning,
building regulation legislation and guidance, as well as a local
determination to promote and uphold the recommendations in
this Guide.
Education, informally through the media, and formally through
traditional building workshops etc. will raise the awareness of the
local community, building procurers, contractors and designers.
Integration with local schools and their curricula means that
sustainability will be seen as a priority by the next generation.
Statutory Authorities provide specific agendas for the following:
- Biodiversity, water management, renewable energy sources (Environment Agency).
- Increased insulation, good practice detailing and construction (Building Control).
- Waste generation and management, recycling strategies (Local County Council).
This Guide provides principles approved by the above Agencies.
Local Sourcing
A key to sustainability in the Broads will be local sourcing and
networks. Finding a local builder and specifying materials that
are produced locally will reduce transport costs and vehicle
emissions, as well as contributing to the local aesthetic. Materials
that are available locally are probably materials that have been
used locally for centuries in the making of buildings.
The Broadland characteristic is defined by local sourcing.
Re-cycle Re-use
Opportunities should be taken to re-use existing buildings, which
with some modifications might meet their requirements perfectly.
This is sometimes considered a costly alternative to making a
new building, but when you consider the recycling potential
released in the re-use of lime mortared bricks, timber, clay tiles
and hardcore, cost savings and sensitivity to context are the
ultimate benefits.
An ‘existing building register’ could be considered so potential
developers are made aware of opportunities.
Planning guidelines already favour re-use and brown field sites.
Especially relevant in the Broads.
In a protected environment like the Broads, a design ethos, which
is contextual and sensitive to locality, is a priority.To ‘touch the
ground lightly’ by means, for example, of screwed spiral anchor
pile foundations allows bio diversity to thrive below the building.
Semi-permanent, adaptable and re-usable structures are well
suited to waterside locations, but are not as suitable for areas of
higher land, where a hillside context hints at permanence against
the landscape backdrop.The marshland suggests structures that
sit low for protection from the elements with occasional height
and verticality to act as markers in the landscape.
Some of the technologies in this guide such as wind turbines,
solar water heaters and wind catchers etc. will require planning
permission and the Broads Authority should be consulted in the
first instance.
The effectiveness of some technologies referred to may be
seasonal and in some instances it will be appropriate to combine
systems to achieve the best results.
Landscape Character
Landscape character is defined as a distinct, recognisable and
consistent pattern of elements in the landscape that makes one
landscape different from another. Essentially, landscape character
is that which makes an area unique.
It is essential to consider this sense of place when making
decisions about how to change, manage or restore landscapes.
Only by paying proper regard to the existing character of a place
can informed and responsible decisions be made, and sustainable
future landscapes planned for.Through understanding how places
differ we can also ensure that future development is well situated,
sensitive to its location, and contributes to environmental, social
and economic objectives.
The Broads Authority has undertaken a landscape character
assessment which divides The Broads into a series of local
character areas and types, each of which provide advice about
the qualities that make the area unique and what aspects should
be considered by potential planning applicants.
The Broads…
An unrivalled naturally functioning wetland ecosystem of
international natural and cultural importance, with a landscape
that: comprises a mosaic of interconnecting rivers and shallow
lakes, fens, marshes, wet wood-lands, mud-flats and coastal dunes;
supports a wealth of plants and animals; and reflects historic
patterns of human activity over many hundreds of years.
A place where people live or work in harmony with it’s natural
and cultural qualities and where the local economy is sustained
through small and medium-sized enterprises: building and hiring
boats; providing services and accommodation, and producing
food and other products locally to meet the needs of visitors;
harvesting the fens; and farming livestock on the marshes.
(Adapted from the 2004 Broads Plan)
Broads Authority Local Development Framework:
The following pages describe sustainable principles for building in
The Broads.
These are accompanied by icons which refer to the Checklist,
and icons which represent the initial cost of the technology
involved.The icons for cost are shown below from cheapest to
most expensive.
Some of the principles listed may appear expensive, however
with an increase in demand it is inevitable that technologies will
become more cost effective.
Ultimately some of the technologies will pay for themselves over
time.The icons on the right represent the time it will take to
expect a return on the money invested. Immediate return, 2 – 5
year return, and 10+ year return.
Cost Return
The following is intended as a quick checklist to use when commissioning or designing buildings to be sustainable.
Follow the icons throughout the guide to find out more about the specific topics.
Sustainable materials and construction
Understand the impacts, which materials specified
may have on the environment, resource depletion
and energy consumption.
Micro-climate and pollution
Create shelter from excessive exposure to sun and
wind, and improve air quality by reducing pollution.
Renewable energy
Develop sites to maximise opportunities for
generating and using renewable energy (small scale
windmills, Photovoltaics etc).
Waste management
Reduce, re-use and recycle.
Water resource management
Understand the importance of conserving limited
natural resources, minimise consumption, reduce
flood risk and relieve demands on infrastructure.
Energy efficiency
Design buildings to be as energy efficient as
possible, reducing effects of depletion of natural
resources and pollution produced by conventional
energy generation.
Design buildings to be as flexible as possible for
future adaptation to climate and temperature
change, and changes in water level.
Biodiversity and quality environments
Consider existing plant and wildlife, acoustic
insulation, thermal comfort, natural daylight and
Energy Saving Trust
Centre for Alternative Energy
Site Selection
The Broads Local Plan and its successor, the Broads Local
Development Framework outline planning policies for the Broads
and should be consulted in the first instance. Secondly, in order
to select a site which will contribute sustainably to the area:
Consider adjacency to existing infrastructure and services.
Consider re-use of existing buildings rather than demolition
(consult Broads Authority for information on redundant
Consider the orientation of the site – covered later under
‘Building Orientation’.
The selection of a site is a fundamental and low cost decision.
Natural habitats and micro-climates should not be disturbed.
Any demolition should be supported by a statement of intent to
re-use materials from the existing building.
Buildings reaching the end of their predicted life - if demolished
carefully - can provide a useful resource in the re-use of their
Site Layout
Site layout for waterside development will be dictated by
orientation and access to the waterside. Access across the site,
from water to road, should be maintained in strategic locations;
strengthening the transportation network, providing access for
the delivery of materials for construction and up-keep. These
access routes will help maintain public views and help prevent
the isolation of the road network from the river frontage.
Mooring access will depend on suitability of the bank side habitat.
Piling method should be appropriate to risk from flooding/
erosion. See Bank Protection.
The building’s orientation is discussed later in this guide.
Access should be provided to possible bio-fuel stores and
sewage treatment systems.
Planting might be considered to the roadside to provide privacy
and deaden sound.
The possibility of using micro-renewable energy technologies
such as wind turbines and solar panels should be a
consideration in site layout.
Site Density
Restrictions on height as dictated by the local context and impact
on landscape. New development will be considered successful if
it continues the pattern of historic development.
New development should support local shops, schools, and
employment whilst utilising existing infrastructure. A network
of short journeys should encourage walking and riding bikes,
whilst longer journeys should be achievable via public transport,
through bus and rail networks. In theory this creates a series of
sustainable communities throughout the Broads, which create
their own economic viability.
The correct site density can create healthy social environments.
The sustainable community could create enough economic
viability to bring redundant buildings back into use.
The aim is to generate social interaction via a density, which
neither isolates, nor over-crowds.
Broads Authority Local Development Framework:
Building Orientation
Exploiting visible connections with the landscape is a priority in
an area like the Broads. Waterside buildings will evidently be
orientated to maximise views of the water.Where this results
in larger areas of glazing facing south, solar gain is increased and
heating costs can be reduced.The down side to this is glare from
the sun, which can controlled via the use of projecting eaves
(i.e. sun only penetrates deep into the building in the winter) or
applied solar shading (external louvres, etc.)
Natural day lighting will improve a building’s interior and
reduce the requirement for artificial lighting.
If the principal views are to the north, smaller windows, setting
up framed views may be preferable in what should be a heavily
insulated wall. Solid ‘rammed earth’ or gabion walls can provide
levels of protection from the elements required of a north facing
Topography / Construction
The topography of the selected site will affect the method of
construction implemented.
A priority for the Broads is the re-use of materials from buildings
reaching the end of their expected life. Demolition materials can
be used as a piling mat to avoid the need for importing virgin
materials into site.
The following are some examples of sustainable piling techniques.
In preference to in-situ concrete retaining walls, driven steel sheet
piling should be avoided, except in areas susceptible to flooding
See Bank Protection.
Screwed spiral anchor pile foundations are lightweight, avoid
large amounts of concrete, excavation and disposal of subsoil.The
principle of ‘touching the ground lightly’ with a technique like this
also allows biodiversity to thrive below the building.
Dynamic compaction and vibration techniques with or without
the addition of local stone or recycled concrete into the piling
hole can provide piled construction without using imported
material, i.e. no new concrete.
Ecology and Biodiversity
Whether the site is waterside, hillside or marshland, the objective
must be to ensure that a development has minimal impact on its
natural habitat. Positive enhancement of the environment must
be a key aim.
Ecological surveys may need be undertaken to accompany
planning applications. Advice should be sought from Natural
England or the local Wildlife Trust.
If the site has a number of environmental implications, it
would be worth considering the services of an Environmental
Protection of existing trees and the addition of green sedum
moss roofs (where appropriate) should be considered in an
environment like the Broads where Ecology and Biodiversity is a
Consider - Reed-bed filtration systems
Gabion walls in reed-beds provide high surface area for
beneficial bacteria growth
Protection from the Elements
The majority of sites in the Broads suffer from exposure to the
elements: be it harsh wind and rain in the winter or exposure
to the sun in the summer. Planting can be used to moderate the
environment.Tree planting can provide useful solar shade in the
summer, but when the leaves drop in the autumn the same trees
offer little obstruction to the penetration of winter daylight and
desirable solar gains. Evergreen planting to the north can provide
protection from wind and driving rain in the winter.
Artificial methods of protection like louvred panels on south
facing glass or brise soleil canopies can be integrated into
a building’s design. Studies can be carried out by architects/
designers to ensure that the shading device will work as
The north side of a building should be heavily insulated to
protect from harsh conditions. Solid ‘rammed earth’ or gabion
walls provide increased thermal mass, meaning they provide
insulation in the winter and absorb the heat from the sun in the
- Employ methods to keep sun off glass (Sun shading by louvres)
- Deciduous tree planting adjacent to building
- Heavily insulated north facing walls.
Basic Water Management
Hosepipe bans and flood warnings suggest instability in our
climate.The way water impacts directly on health and food
production means that careful use of freshwater has become a
key concern and water conservation has become as important
as energy conservation.
There are generally two categories of water conservation:
The first being the use of water by the end user (drawn from
the mains) which can be controlled by use of metering, high
efficiency fittings, spray taps, showers rather than baths, and by
the collection of rainwater for general recycling. See Rainwater
Harvesting.The second is action taken to avoid depletion of the
water table such as the design of hard surfaces. Car Park surface
finishes should be porous to allow the large quantities of water
they collect to drain into the ground. Gravel filter strips, swales
(water collecting ponds), infiltration devices and filter drains help
maintain the water table.
Sustainable Drainage Systems
Sustainable drainage systems remove the need for conventional
pipe work and excavation by managing the drainage and filtration
of surface water above ground.The system reduces construction
costs as well as reducing the overall flow of water through a
series of storage ponds, which minimise distress on downstream
drainage and receiving waters.The drainage system creates
natural features in the landscape creating attractive surroundings
in which biodiversity thrives. Sustainable drainage systems are
simple and cost effective, and avoid the need for expensive
specialist contractors.
- Eliminates underground pipe work and manholes.
- Reduces flows by over 50%.
- Reduces construction/transportation costs
- Keeps plants watered
- Traps pollution in topsoil and vegetation, where it bio-degrades
- Trapped grit and silt in vegetation, keeps the drainage system
Ground Contamination and Remediation
Because the Broads Authority endorses the re-use of existing
building plots (brown field sites) it is often likely that ground
contamination will be discovered.This is especially so adjacent to
boat yards where diesel, petrol solvents and other carbon based
substances are in evidence.
Instead of removing contaminated earth, which is time
consuming, costly and involves transportation, the contamination
can be treated with biological methods.The most benign method
of remediation is based on toxin-neutralising plants (alder, willow,
poplar, reed), which either naturally break down pollution or
absorb it.
Heavy materials are most problematic in that they are more
difficult to treat. However, liming or stabilisation using cement or
PFA materials, or even waste from sugar production, can reduce
the mobility of metals in the ground. Capping using reclaimed
soils, or spoil, may also provide a satisfactory solution.
The degree of risk of flooding is likely to increase in the light of
climate change, sea-level rise and the gradual sinking of Eastern
England. All these phenomena are subject to study and continual
re-assessment. The current estimate of sea-level rise for inclusion
in the design of tidal defences, as recommended by the Depart
ment for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), is 6 mm
per year.
Flood Risk
The causes of flooding in the Broads are complex and there is
significant uncertainty in assessing the future risk of flooding at
particular locations and its likely extent, duration and severity.
Developers should be aware at the outset that it is not feasible
to eliminate all risk of flooding. A range of measures can,
however, be applied to reduce the risk of flooding including
avoiding development in areas at risk.Where development is
appropriate in principle the following are relevant:
Minimum Floor Levels
This is a well established approach in the Broads, setting the
building floor level above an appropriate flood level.
However it can affect access into the building, including access for
disabled people.
Raising Plot Levels
Developers may also seek to reduce the risk of flooding by
raising the level of the land, either in isolation or in combination
with a minimum floor level. However raising land levels can serve
to divert floodwater onto neighbouring plots. It can also be
damaging to trees and other vegetation on the site.
Bunds or Flood Walls
In some cases it will be appropriate to consider the use of
are likely to be damaging to the character of the landscape or
built environment.
A further approach is to take measures to protect individual
properties, for example through the use of raised thresholds,
floorboards, waterproofing or the protection of airbricks,
electrical installation and foul drainage.
earth bunds or flood walls to reduce the risk of flooding of new
development or to protect existing development. However, these
Increase Insulation
Solar gain and renewable energy sources are priorities for
sustainable development but without increased insulation any
beneficial heat gained could easily escape through the fabric of
the building. Insulation for sustainable development, however,
needs to be carefully sourced as many products contain glass
fibres and plastics that do not decompose.
There are now many products on the market, which utilise
natural and renewable materials such as Hemp or sheep’s wool
and these should be used in preference to non-renewable
petrochemical materials. Sheep’s wool is treated with an inert,
naturally occurring mineral, to provide pest, fungal and enhanced
fire resistance. It can be used for solid or cavity ‘breathing wall’
construction, fire barriers and for reducing airborne and impact
Increased insulation should be used in preference to increased
heating installation. Optimum thicknesses of 300-600mm will in
most cases exceed building regulations and should help to ‘future
proof designs.
Building Regs:
Natural ventilation
Windcatcher systems have proved to be an effective method
of providing natural ventilation in buildings, by encapsulating the
prevailing wind from any direction. Clean, fresh air, relatively free
from contamination, is caught at roof level and is carried down to
the rooms below through a controlled damper arrangement.
This natural solution guarantees a comfortable living environment
without appealing to energy wasting technologies. Moreover it
contributes to a substantial reduction of a building’s energy costs
and a reduction of its CO
2 emission.
The system can be reversed to provide night time cooling in
which large air currents cool off the building and the inside air
overnight. Because of this the thermal comfort in summer can be
guaranteed with a minimum of energy consumption. Next to the
need for enough thermal mass, which stores the cold air, there
also has to be enough wind generated airflow (a resource which
is abundant in the Broads).
Copyright, Monodraught Ltd. 2006
Building Regs:
Building Regs:
Prefabricated buildings might conjure up images of post war
housing, temporary classrooms, or site huts. However the
technology has become more and more sophisticated to the
point where developers can benefit from mass production, quick
installation and quality workmanship.The technology is well
suited to the Broads where a principle of light intervention in the
landscape is appropriate.
Off-site prefabrication eases the current construction industry
skills shortage, using more factory-based production. Factory
conditions allow for a more amiable working environment, in
which a better quality of work and less wastage is achievable.
However this should be balanced with transportation costs, and
a panelised system is preferable to a volumetric solution, which in
essence involve the transportation of large volumes of air.
Composite panels should be avoided as these are often difficult
to recycle.
Building Regs:
Rainwater Harvesting
Roofs represent large surface areas of buildings and are therefore
valuable in their ability to collect rainwater. With conventional
drainage systems the water is carried away in storm drains or
soak-aways, but Rainwater Harvesting utilises the potential in the
volume of collectable water.
Non potable rain water stored in tanks can be a source of
water for WC cisterns and urinal flushing, plant irrigation and car
washing. Energy can be extracted from stored water heated by
high thermal mass (pebbles) roof coverings.
Because the cost of treating the non-potable water on-site is
high, harvesting systems usually work alongside conventional
piped potable water systems, which effectively doubles the
cost of water installation. However with the increasing cost
of metered water, rainwater harvesting becomes a valuable
Materials Specification
A priority for the Broads is the re-use of materials from buildings
which have come to the end of their useful life. Therefore
buildings should be constructed to allow materials to be re
used easily in the future. Reversible construction methods (i.e.
mechanical fixings rather than welded joints) help in this process.
When there is no option but to specify new materials, re-cycled
materials can be sourced from web-sites like Wrap which gives
an independent assessment of the recycled content of most
Generally timber should be sourced from local soft /hard woods.
Paints should be water or linseed oil based. Floors should be clay
tile instead of carpet, as tiles have a longer lifespan and need less
energy to manufacture, and carpets prevent the floor slab from
storing heat. Alternative floor finishes are wood, linoleum or
rubber. Gutters can be specified as un-coated aluminium which
is recyclable. Windows should be timber or metal framed. Avoid
PVC products.
Sourcing re-cycled materials
Wrap website gives an independent assessment of the recycled content of most materials with lists of actual products (those with
most recycled content) and their contact/ technical info.
WRAP: Recycled Products Selector site.
Photovoltaic Cells
With their ultra-modern aesthetic, photovoltaic panels are
often at odds with the traditional building style common in the
Broads. However roof tiles are being developed with integral
photovoltaic cells to suit the domestic market.
The technology has become common in a variety of applications.
Sunlight knocks electrons free in the photovoltaic material, which
flow out of the device as electric current.The more intense the
sunlight, the stronger the electric current.
When specifying photovoltaics for the domestic market the
key issue is how much it will contribute to the energy load and
therefore how cost effective the technology will be over the
lifetime of the building.
The disadvantages of the system occur in the intermittent nature
of sunlight and the difficulty in storing the electricity generated.
Unlike conventional energy systems costs are high at installation
and low in use, although maintenance and control systems can
add to the cost.
Passive Solar Heating
Passive solar energy is common to many buildings but its full
potential is rarely exploited. South facing glazing provides useful
space heating, creating about 20 per cent of the energy needs of
a typical house.
With enlarged windows to the south, the addition of
conservatories or atria, and some ducting of the warmed air to
the colder parts of the building, passive solar gain can provide
nearly 40 per cent of the primary energy heating needs of a
typical house in the Broads.
For this to be most efficiently achieved, the solar energy needs
to be stored in a building fabric of high thermal capacity, and
the building should be well insulated and relatively airtight.
Simple measures such as southerly aspect, differential window
area between north and south, and high levels of insulation can
achieve a great deal of benefit at little extra cost.
For example, public rooms are placed on the south side
and utility areas (kitchens, bathrooms, small bedrooms) to
the north. When specifying large areas of glass be awear of
possible light polution.
Solar Water Heating
Active solar systems consist of flat plate water heaters and
evacuated tube collectors. Solar water heaters are normally
placed on south-facing inclined roofs with the heated water
taken directly into the hot water storage tank, which is usually
positioned in the roof space. A few square metres of solar water
heater can provide two-thirds of the hot water requirements of
a typical household in the UK.These systems are called “active,
as opposed to “passive” because they use electric pumps to
move the water from the collectors to the storage tank. In
passive systems water moves naturally because of a temperature
Outside the UK, community-based solar district heating systems
are to be found. In these instances solar collectors heat the water
stored in large thermal (often underground) tanks during the
summer, which, because of their size, retain much of the heat
during the winter.This pre-heated hot water is then piped to
adjoining buildings, where it can be heated further before use
either in radiators or as domestic hot water.
Copyright, Norfolk Solar Ltd. 2006
Bank Protection
The careful design of new or replacement bank edging is
crucial to protect the special landscape character of the Broads.
The following designs indicate some alternative methods of
sustainable bank protection suitable for the Broads.
Alder Pole Piling
This method uses locally-sourced green Alder poles. Creates
a ‘softer’ effect than traditional timber piling. Suitable only for
emergency mooring. Suitable for low to medium tidal ranges.
A low cost method using live willow bundles to create living bank
protection with high conservation benefits. Low tidal ranges.
Willow Spiling
A low-cost method of protection using locally-sourced natural
material. Not suitable for mooring. Low to medium tidal ranges.
Broads Design and Management Information
Increased Air Tightness
Like increased insulation, air tightness is fundamental in ensuring
that sustainably sourced heat does not dissipate through the
buildings fabric. However this needs to be carefully balanced with
natural ventilation systems, which are intended to supply the
building with fresh air.
The air-tightness tests required to comply with Building
Regulation Part F (Ventilation) are conducted with natural
ventilation systems masked off and so the issue becomes one of
robust detailing in the construction, with the aim to reduce a loss
of comfort as a result of un-controlled air movement.
Leaky buildings require an over designed heating and
ventilation system resulting in higher energy bills.
Building Regs:
Ground source heat pumps
Oil fired boilers or electric heaters have been the usual recourse
for rural areas, but now ground source heat pumps are a viable
alternative.These extract energy absorbed when the sun shines
on the earth using a bore hole or shallow trenches. Heat is
extracted using water circulated in a ground loop, which is
pumped to a useable level by an electrically powered heat pump.
Ground source heat pumps can be very efficient at extracting
heat or cooling from in-situ resources, e.g. river, pond,
underground water.
Always insulate well first or the efficiency is squandered.
- Existing underground services must be located accurately
- Efficiency depends upon heat transfer rates. Solid ground is
more effective than porous, and damp conditions better than
- Horizontal pipe systems are cheaper than vertical
- GSHP should be sized to meet 60-70% of total energy
- Water tightness is essential for piping to avoid antifreeze loss.
Ground Source Heat Pump Club:
Building Management Systems
The integration of combined sustainable techniques in a
building can create a complex management scenario. Building
management systems are designed for the control, monitoring
and optimisation of various functions and services provided in
a building, including heating and cooling, ventilation, lighting and
often the management of electric appliances.
The use of these technologies allows the optimisation of various
services often with large energy savings.There are numerous
methods by which services within buildings can be controlled.
Most systems seek to control either by time, temperature, or
illuminance and these parameters can be programmed to vary
with time.
The technology ranges from time switches to complete
‘intelligent’ systems.
Heat recovery
This is a principle suited more to commercial buildings where
air conditioning units create wasted heat. Heat recovery avoids
throwing away heat with stale or moist air by use of heat
exchangers which pre-warm incoming cool fresh air.
The heat exchanger is a device composed of a series of
independent tubes divided by a middle partition, thus ensuring
the separation of supply and exhaust air flows.The tubes contain
refrigerant that vaporizes on the warmer airflow channel and
condenses on the colder air channel, thus accomplishing the heat
While recovering the otherwise waste energy from the exhaust
air and transferring it back to the supply air, the efficiency of the
cooling and heating devices in the air-handling units is greatly
Throwing away heat with stale or moist air in ventilation/
extraction systems
All ventilation systems should have heat recovery from stale
warm exhaust air to pre-warm incoming cool fresh air using
recovered heat
Wind Turbines
As an alternative to large-scale production there has been a
growth in micro-wind generators suitable for building-related
application.The turbine is fixed to the roof in the manner of a TV
aerial and feeds power into the building at 240 volts. Unlike large
wind-powered systems the surplus energy cannot be fed into
the national grid, but installers are eligible to receive government
subsidies in the form of Renewable Obligation Certificates.
The appropriateness of wind turbines needs to be considered in
relation to the buildings context (see Sensitivity page 10).
Micro wind generators can, on average, cut annual electricity bills
by a third.
Generators should be fixed to robust masonry and sited in the
prevailing wind.
The British Wind Energy Association provides data on wind
strength and recommends companies from which micro wind
generators can be sourced.
Copyright, Renewable Devices Swift Turbines Ltd. 2006
Small Scale CHP
Combined heat and power systems make use of the wasted heat
created in the electricity making process, converting it into useful
heat for hot water and space heating. Emissions are 10% that of
conventional electricity manufacture.
Small scale CHP systems are emerging as a new product for
central heating markets.The aim is to replace a central heating
boiler with a device of similar physical size that provides some
electricity as well as heat – and the potential to reduce carbon
CHP can provide a secure and highly efficient method of
generating electricity and heat at the point of use. Owing to the
utilisation of heat from electricity generation and the avoidance
of transmission losses because electricity is generated on site,
CHP typically achieves a 35 per cent reduction in primary energy
This can allow the host organisation to make economic savings
where there is a suitable balance between the heat and power
Reed Beds
Reed beds work by cleaning the soiled water biologically.The
roots of reeds (and other plants) supply oxygen to the naturally
occurring bacteria in the water, which then digest any pathogens
present. Faecal coliforms are broken down with the residual
matter, supplying nutrient-rich water to a lake, which can then
provide a habitat for wildlife or food for fish.
The reeds are relatively low maintenance because they control
their own growth and don’t require cutting. Operational costs
are lower than conventional systems and the reed bed won’t
smell if the system is designed correctly to treat the loadings
from the site. Reed beds require a large area of land to work, so
they are not suitable in all locations, but the fact that reed occurs
regularly in The Broads means it is a contextual sustainable
Biofuel technology ranges from wood-burning stoves, which can
combine hot water systems, to crops which are
grown specifically to be harvested and burnt in power stations or
heating systems.
When burned as a fuel, biomass releases into the atmosphere
the carbon dioxide it absorbed during the growth stage, mean
ing it is carbon neutral. Biofuels also encourage a stable rural
economy through their growth and management.
Wood pellets have advantages over solid wood fuel because
they flow like a liquid and can be used in automatic self feed
stoves and boilers.They also take up less volume, have less ash
and emissions, and are easier to ignite. However they involve a
manufacturing process and transportation cost where as timber
can be sourced and seasoned on-site.
Biofuels (such as coppiced willows or Miscanthus) are commonly
employed in district combined heat and power (CHP) plants,
while fuel from rapeseed and recycled cooking oils provides an
alternative for the transport industry.
Reed Cutting
The Broads Authority sought to discover why reedcutting was
dying out locally while reeds for thatching were being imported
from Eastern Europe. Although this led to the illusion of retaining
the character of traditional Broads buildings it was at the expense
of the environment and local skills.
The results showed the lack of living wage was at the core of the
decline and consultants recommended that the reed and sedge
cutters form a group to access grants for basic equipment and
acquire further skills to provide earnings during the closed cutting
The Broads Authority has persuaded landowners and managers
to reduce or drop royalty payments for cutting reed and plans
to work with the East Anglia Master Thatchers Association to
ensure a ready market.
The project has resulted in reed-beds being restored and reed
being cut commercially on some sites for the first time in many
The restoration of arable land as reed beds reduces the risk of
flooding by absorbing rather than repelling flood water.
Lime has been the principal binder in mortars, renders, plasters
and washes for thousands of years. Cement, by contrast, has only
been around since 1811, although it has managed almost com
pletely to take over from lime. It is a hard, brittle and unyielding
Lime has been essential to the repair and maintenance of our
historic building fabric, but is also appreciated for it’s sustainable
crudentials. Bricks laid in a lime mortar can be used over and
over again, where as bricks bonded with cement mortar can only
be used once, after which they have to be broken up.
Environmentalists approve of lime as a binder because the firing
temperature of 900°C is far less harmful to the environment
than the temperatures in excess of 1300°C required when pro
ducing cement. Furthermore, a proportion of the carbon dioxide
emitted when burning lime is absorbed back into the lime as it
Straw Bale
Sustainability – Straw is an annually renewable product, fuelled by
the sun. About 4 million tonnes are produced surplus to require
ments in the UK each year.
Highly Insulating – straw is super-insulating at a low cost.With a
U-value of 0.13W/m2K, this means it is two or three times better
insulating than contemporary materials.
Sound Insulating – strawbale is acoustically super-insulative.This
means that not only are the sounds of the inside kept in, but ex
ternal noise which may otherwise be obtrusive is kept out. Straw
is also used in earth building techniques traditional to the area.
Load bearing because the bales work like big bricks, they are
stacked on top of each other and directly support the weight of
the structure, including the roof.
Infill is based around a frame (normally wood) which carries the
weight of the roof.The strawbale acts as an infill material that is
simply placed in between the supporting structure for insulation.
Case Studies
These case studies show how the strategies of the guide can
be implemented in 4 specific Broads topography’s:Waterside,
Hillside, Marshland, and Boat Yard.
The techniques used in each case, respond to their context in
an attempt to harmonise with the environment and maintain
landscape character.
The objective is to show how combinations of sustainable
technology can be used sensitively in different locations.
The waterside building layout and orientation should work
with the pattern of linear development typical in The Broads. A
building like this will typically replace a building that has reached
the end of its life expectancy, and it would be expected that any
salvageable materials be re-used in the new construction.
Screwed spiral anchor pile foundations allow the building to have
minimal impact on the ecology and bio-diversity by raising it
above ground level, which will also reduce the risk of flooding.
Consider sustainable bank protection such as alder pole piling
(suitable for mooring) adjacent to the dwelling.Whereas away
from the dwelling Willow Spilling will reduce bank erosion and
restricts mooring in protected areas.
Maintaining access across the site strengthens the possibilities of
the transportation network. Planting to the North side provides
protection from the elements privacy from the roadside and
deadens sound. A small-scale wind turbine could provide 30% of
the buildings electricity and a wood-burning stove would reduce
heating costs.
Orientation works with pattern of linear development
Replaces a building at the end of its useful life
Materials salvaged in construction
Screwed spiral anchor foundations
Rasied above ground surface
Bank protection
Access maintained across site
On an exposed hillside site robust detailing and materials will
be required to maintain an airtight envelope and reduce heating
costs.The building can benefit from its context by being partially
buried in the hillside, which will provide protection from the
elements and provide good insulation.
The exposed location would provide the ideal location for small-
scale wind generation, which could cut annual electricity bills by
a third.
Porous hard surfaces would allow surface water to naturally drain
to the water table and could be combined with a sustainable
drainage system in a hillside location.
Rainwater harvested from the roof could provide water for WC
cisterns, plant irrigation and car washing, while Reed bed filtration
benefits from the natural incline of a hillside site to provide the
falls for the gravity fed system.
Robust detailing in exposed location
Partially buried for protection from the elements
Ideal location for small scale wind generator
Sustainable drainage system
Rainwater harvesting
Natural incline for reed bed filtration
The marshland building sits low for protection from the elements
with occasional height in the form of wind catchers, which
provide natural ventilation.The building is orientated to maximise
views to the south and takes advantage of passive solar heating
with its large glass area on this elevation.The earth extracted to
form the foundations could be amassed on the north side to
provide protection from the elements and allows bio diversity to
thrive over this area of the building.
In a flat land location, horizontal ground source heat pumps
utilise the energy absorbed by the surrounding land.The utility
areas, kitchen, bathroom, small bedrooms, are buried below
ground to the north where they are insulated by the earth.
Materials should be selected to respond to context and
photovoltaics integrated into the building construction could
provide a percentage of the buildings electricity whilst also
providing solar shading.
Sits low for protection from the elements with occasional height
Windcatchers provide natural ventilation
Horizontal ground source heat pumps
Excavated earth creates protection to the north
Photovoltaics take advantage of increased light levels
Materials selected to respond to context
Boat Yard
The Boat Yard context provides the biggest opportunities in
terms of sustainability in the Broads. It is a building type that
provides landscape character and local employment.
The services that the Yards offer are very important in terms of
sustaining navigation and they can be diversified if permission is
given to re-use buildings at the end of their useful life. Holiday
accomodation may allow existing facilities and environmentally
friendly use to remain on site by providing a year round income
for the yard.
Principles that should be taken into consideration include:
sustainable types of bank protection, the treatment of land
that might be contaminated by diesel or petrol solvents with
biological methods, hard surfaces should be porous to avoid
depletion of the water table. Bio fuel stacks for wood burning
stoves are well suited to the industrial aesthetic.
The preservation of the Boat Yards is key to creating sustainable
communities in The Broads.
Re-uses building at the end of its useful life
Treatment of contaminated land
Bank protection
Maintains historic development/character
Holiday accomodation adds to local economy
Porous hard surfaces
Bio fuel stack for wood burning stove
This ‘production’ has been prepared by LSI Architects funded by
the Broads Authority Sustainable Development Fund.
We hope the ideas have inspired you and that there are some
which you can incorporate in your next building project.
You should not feel restricted by the suggestions made in this
guide. It is not a formula for creating buildings which all look the
same, but a framework of opportunities whose objective is a
unique sustainable future for the Broads.
Exit Sustainability Guide