Letchworth Eco Home Project

About the Eco Home at Common View, Letchworth Garden City

In 2016, we joined forces with local and specialist partners to transform a typical early Garden City home into a blueprint for energy efficient solid wall properties.

Early solid wall homes can be cold, inefficient and suffer with damp problems, so we want to come up with solutions to address these problems while protecting the heritage and character of these early Garden City homes.

The results will be used to help shape future retrofits in heritage buildings and older properties locally and also provide detailed evidence of energy savings to encourage wider use of similar techniques.

Who is involved and what have they been working on?

Building Research Establishment (BRE) assessed the house to model its baseline energy performance and gathered energy use data from typical homes in the area. A number of performance specification options were then developed for the Heritage Foundation in line with current government regulations for new homes and more ambitious carbon/energy reduction targets.

Willmott Dixon, one of the country’s biggest privately owned construction, housing and property groups, which has its head office in Letchworth, undertook the final design and project managed the work on a not-for-profit basis. A number of suppliers sponsored the project to help produce these valuable insights.  

Other partners included:

Aereco - demand control ventilation (sponsored materials)
Affinity Water - water saving measures (sponsored materials)
ARCH Community Group - Eco Garden planting 
Howard Cottage HA - comparator property and tenancy for completed dwelling
Natural Building Technologies - Pavadry (BBA certified) wood fibre internal wall insulation (sponsored materials)
North Hertfordshire College – looking at learning opportunities for students
Rokzen - subcontractors on site
Royal Horticultural Society - Eco Garden support

More about the house and techniques

The house has undergone a complete refurbishment and has been fitted with measures to improve energy efficiency while protecting its historic characteristics. Detailed monitoring will be carried out on the building’s performance to see if these changes have made an impact.

The building has been fitted with Pavadry wood fibre internal wall insulation, new windows, solar PV panels, a waste water heat recovery system and a demand controlled ventilation system from Aereco. We have also worked with the Royal Horticultural Society to design a bio diverse garden, including wild flower beds, vegetables and the use of free-cycled materials and water butts.

Find out more about the materials and technology used in the project in this brief presentation 

What next?

The property has been tenanted by Howard Cottage Housing Association and have also supplied a comparator property. Monitoring will be carried out by Willmott Dixon and the BRE for at least 12 months to analyse energy use and internal conditions, the performance of various design features and the experience of the property’s residents.

Open House

In July 2016, we opened the doors of 15 Common View and invited the community, local architects and anyone interested in sustainability to take a look at the equipment we installed to reduce energy use and save money.  Visitors also met our gardening experts to hear how they transformed the garden into a beautifully designed eco garden. 

Eco Home Masterclasses

The Eco Garden at Common View has been designed to grow food, encourage bees and other wildlife and look beautiful, all on a very small budget.  Our gardening experts (Steve Howells of ARCH Community Group and Elizabeth Towler from the Heritage Foundation) held Masterclasses for thepublic to show what can be achieved in your garden or allotment. 

The story of Common View

According to records in our Collection, 15 Common View was designed by well-known Art and Crafts architect Courtenay Crickmer, who designed a substantial number of buildings in Letchworth. The houses (9-23 Common View) were built in 1908 for Miss Annie Jane Lawrence. Lawrence moved to Letchworth from London and employed William Harrison Cowlishaw to design her open-air school, The Cloisters.

  • The Eco Home in Common View, Letchworth Garden City
  • Work gets underway
  • Back garden will be designed by the RHS
  • Willmot Dixon team
  • Project team
  • 1961
  • Block plan
  • Street