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5 eco-friendly Grand Designs houses

Great innovation and steely determination are the hallmarks of all these eco builds. Below are some great environmentally friendly houses featured in Grand Designs.

From bunkers to flood zones, the stories of these five self-builders and their sustainable, eco-friendly properties are truly inspirational.

Zero-carbon garden plot property in Blackheath, London

A brick built self build house with zero carbon in Blackheathfeatured on tv show Grand Designs on Channel 4

Image: Matt Chisnall

Owners Caroline and Philip Cooper and their architect son Sam built their dream property metres from the back door of their previous home.  

A ground source heat pump provides hot water and underfloor heating, while a photovoltaic panel fixed to the roof produces electricity. Rainwater is harvested into a tank via the roof and through gaps between the patio tiles.

The property is truly innovative. An integrated computer system monitors the running of the house, a specialist services the property remotely and Caroline and Philip manage their house via their smart phones and tablets.

Woodland home in coastal Jutland, Denmark

The interior windows in the contemporary eco new build home in Denmark as featured on tv show Grand Designs on Channel 4

Image: Morten Holtum/Lykke Foged

Architect Rasmus Bak and his wife Lene wanted their new home to have a sense of flow between the natural world and the interior and a fluency between architecture and nature runs throughout their design.

The building is single storey so the roof does not protrude above the tree line. It is clad in Superwood, a Danish eco product that’s hardwearing and resistant to fungus.

The shower works with an air-to-water heat pump and the house is angled to benefit from the movement of the sun.

Upside-down cedar-clad house in Norfolk

a cedar timber eco house in Norfolk featured in the tv show Grand Designs on Channel 4

Image: Darren Chung

Owner Natasha Cargill and her architectural designer Wilf Meynell were under more constraints than most when it came to planning their project. The idyllic plot Natasha chose was subject to Paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework, which meant that only the most innovative, energy-efficient building would do.

As a result the house is sustainable even down to the foundations, which sit on a thin and efficient insulated slab cast from eco concrete. The structure is timber framed, skinned with fibre panels and stuffed with carbon-neutral insulation.

The staircase is made from the same thermal mass concrete used in the foundations, which warms the home in winter and cools it in summer. Solar panels on a sedum roof provide electricity.

Bungalow with bunker in Isle of Wight

A '70s style eco-friendly bungalow in isle of wight featured in Grand Designs on Channel 4

Image: Rachael Smith/Julian Winslow

Architectural designer Lincoln Miles, whose 1970s bungalow featured on Grand Designs, is now building a new property on the island. The site he has chosen is occupied by a radar bunker from the Second World War and the new building will connect to it, while leaving the bunker intact.

The house will be semi-off grid and feature thermal insulation and airtight construction. It will have its own water supply and photovoltaic and solar panels mounted into the earth bank of the roof, providing hot water and electricity to a power-wall storage battery.

Flood-resistant timber self-build, Oxfordshire

a timber self build house in Oxfordshire featured in Grand Designs tv show on Channel 4

Image: Alastair Lever

Joanna and Martin O’Callaghan’s building plot was in a flood zone so their proposed property had to offer a safe solution to water incursion.

The resulting timber-framed house is clad in untreated larch, glass and steel with most of the property on one level. The ground is a mix of clay, gravel and sand and the house stands on piled foundations.

It is raised up so that floodwater can run underneath where underground storage chambers collect run-off and surface water. The landscape has also been sculpted to accept encroaching floodwater.

From the Grand Designs Magazine editors. 

You'll find lots more eco friendly design inspiration at Grand Designs Live this spring. 

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