Our favourite Planet and People Friendly Products!

Whether you’re renovating or building from scratch, nowadays there is an emphasis on ‘eco-construction’ and how we can reduce the impact our homes have on the environment.

From using environmentally friendly building materials to renewable energy and green technology within the home there are many alternative products out there which can make your home more ‘eco friendly’.

Here we take a look at the alternatives and their eco friendly properties.

Calcium silicate Bricks

Unless you’re able to use re-claimed bricks, use calcium silicate bricks which use of less energy and do not produce the same amount of air pollutants associated with firing clay. Calcium silicate bricks therefore are considered to render significantly less impact on the environment than clay bricks. Notable uses of the brick in London include Battersea Power Station and the RIBA building in Portland Place.

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Timber

Wherever possible the use of sustainable timber is the ‘go to’ option for any ‘eco home’. Using sustainable timber such as that which is FSC or PEFC certified stimulates the expansion of managed forests to absorb CO2. FSC certified forests support biodiversity and protect the rights of indigenous peoples. The UK is the biggest importer of FSC certified timber.
Using UK grown timber reduces embodied energy and contributes to the local culture and economy - Milling logs has a comparatively low environmental impact.
Timber is a very safe material to handle. It is non-toxic and does not break down into environmentally damaging materials.

Natural clay plasters

Non-toxic and made from sustainable raw materials, natural clay plasters have breath ability to prevent harmful mold and reduce allergies and asthma plus they are recyclable. (clay works)
Clay expands when wet, the wetter it becomes, the more it resists moisture. This makes it an ideal plaster to use in contact with wood or straw. Clay plaster also regulates temperature and air-moisture.

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Eco friendly insulation

Recycled newspaper, sheeps wool, hemp and plastics are alternatives to mineral based insulation materials and are safer to handle and reduce the homes carbon foot print.

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Hempcrete

Hempcrete is a building material that incorporates hemp into its mixture. Hempcrete is very versatile as it can be used for wall insulation, flooring, walls, roofing and more. It’s fire-proof, water-proof, and rot-proof as long as it’s above ground. Hempcrete is made from the shiv or inside stem of the hemp plant and is then mixed with a lime base binder to create the building material. This mixture creates a negative carbon footprint for those who are concerned with the carbon side of things. Hempcrete is much more versatile, easy to work with and pliable than concrete. In fact, earthquakes cannot crack these structures as they are 3 times more resistant than regular concrete.

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Timbercrete

Timbercrete’s thermal insulation properties out-perform many masonry products by up to 6 times. It’s made from timber waste products and actually traps the carbon that would otherwise end up as greenhouse gas. You save energy for heating and cooling, and each brick, paver and block takes a lot less energy to produce. Timbercrete has excellent sound absorption and acoustic qualities

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Ferrock

Compared to Portland cement (made from chalk and clay and resembling Portland stone in color), which is one of the leading types in use throughout the world today, Ferrock is actually five times stronger. It can withstand more compression before breaking and is far more flexible, meaning it could potentially resist the earth movements caused by seismic activity or industrial processes. One of the unique properties of Ferrock is that it becomes even stronger in salt water environments, making it ideal for marine-based construction projects. And rather than emitting large amounts of C02 as it dries, Ferrock actually absorbs and binds it! This results in a carbon-negative process that actually helps to trap greenhouse gases.

Solar panels


Energy bills have in the past years increased by at least 7% per annum. You can protect yourself from the rising utility bills by incorporating solar panels into your energy mix. This will reduce your electricity bills significantly. Plus through Feed-in Tariffs (FiT) you can get paybacks for the electricity you produce. The Feed-In Tariff is an initiative by the UK Government aimed at helping you to become more self-sufficient and sustainable in your use of energy, whilst earning some extra income. Plus if your system produces more energy than you need, through the generous tariff schemes, you can sell the surplus back to the grid.
Solar panels work all year round. Their full potential is released during the sunny months, but they also produce a considerable amount of electricity during the winter, as well as on cloudy days.
Solar panels need almost no maintenance. Once the panels are installed, you need to keep them clean and check whether any trees begin to overshadow the solar PV array.

Solar water heating systems use solar panels, called collectors, fitted to your roof. These collect heat from the sun and use it to heat up water which is stored in a hot water cylinder. A boiler or immersion heater can be used as a back up to heat the water further to reach the required temperature.

Double Glazing

Double and Large glazing reduces the need for lighting and reduces the cost of heating homes.Traditional windows, with a single pane of glass in them, have a U value in excess of 5. Double glazing used to score over 3, but, over the years, the manufacturing process has undergone a number of improvements and currently the Building Regulations insist that any window you install today should have a U value no worse than 1.6. Some countries like Sweden and Norway use triple glazed windows which have a U value of 1.8 (impressive). However the cost of installing triple glazing and each windows weight means it has an embodied energy* approximately 50% higher than double glazing.

*Embodied energy is the energy consumed by all of the processes associated with the production of a building, from the mining and processing of natural resources to manufacturing, transport and product delivery.

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Wool Carpets

Allegedly, flooring products account for around 40% of a building’s environmental impact and soft flooring will be changed between 6 and 12 times during the 60 years of a building’s life. Whatever the source of these figures, they are a useful prompt to consider the importance of specifying products such as carpeting with an eye to minimising environmental impact. Our thoughts on carpet…. don’t buy carpets but if you do want carpets then go for wool or buy a wool rug.  It is very durable and can last centuries. In some families wool rugs have been passed down from generation to generation making them  family heirlooms.   Other natural materials used to make carpets or rugs are sisal, jute and cotton.

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Pure Glue Eco Plywood

Pure Glue Eco Plywood combines the lightweight nature and decorative face of plywood with a non-toxic, formaldehyde-free glue for improved air quality.

Little Greene Paint Co.

This company produces waterbased paints that carry the industry's lowest eco-rating, with VOC content now virtually zero. This means you don't need to worry about solvent contributions to the atmosphere or any respiratory issues, or the smell; they are virtually odourless.

Oil based paints are traditionally favoured because of their renowned longevity and superb finish. Little Greene oil based paints have been reformulated using sustainable vegetable oils, without compromising on their unrivalled quality.

The paper used in their wallpapers comes from FSC or PEFC certificated sustainable forests; so for every tree used another four are planted. The pigments used to print them are completely non-toxic and the excellent wallpaper paste contains no solvent.

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Air Source Heat Pumps

Air Source Heat Pumps use refrigeration technology to provide heat from a condensing unit. The evaporator side of the heat pump absorbs energy from the air outside the house using it as a source of heat for a properties hot water cylinder, radiators or underfloor heating. If the right unit is installed in the property, an Air Source Heat Pump can provide all the hot water and heating a property requires for 365 days a year.

Grey Water/ Rain water Harvesting

Grey water recycling within domestic homes is the process of taking used water from showers, baths and hand wash basins, filtering it and storing the filtered water for re-use.

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Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP) utilise the heat energy stored in the ground to heat water that can be distributed to the heating system, domestic hot water system and appliances within a building. The GSHP works by passing heat from the ground through buried pipework that carries a brine mixture which converts the heat into higher temperatures for use within the home.

So if you want to make your home more eco-friendly or you would like a free quote on any home improvement project then contact us today!!

Oh and one last note… When sourcing materials take a good look at what constitutes the product or material. If you are unsure about the provenance or ingredient of some product, ask the manufacturer to state where it comes from and what it is made of. If the manufacturer is on top of their game, they will make available an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). If a declaration isn't on offer, at least check the health and safety sheet for any human toxin content.

Here are a list of ingredients to stay away from:

Alkylphenol
Alkylphenols are a component in phenolic resins, but they can also be found in adhesives, paints and coatings and high performance rubber products..

Asbestos
The history of the use of asbestos culminated in one of the greatest public health tragedies of modern times. Exposure to the former wonder mineral continues to be the cause of one of the most pernicious forms of cancer.

Bisphenol A
Bisphenol A is used as a hardener in making polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Common BPA products include water bottles, baby bottles, food storage containers, household electronics, plastic lenses and DVDs.

Cadmium
Most commonly used in the production of nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) rechargeable batteries and as a sacrificial corrosion-protection coating for iron and steel. Other uses include alloys, coatings (electroplating), solar cells, plastic stabilisers, and pigments.

Chlorinated Polyethylene (CPE)
CPE is a versatile material that when compounded with other materials, achieves different properties and products. It is widely used as a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), rubber and modifier for resins (PVC, PE and ABS)

Chlorobenzene
Chlorobenzene's most high-profile application was in the production of the pesticide DDT. Modern uses are as a solvent in the manufacture of adhesives, paints, paint removers, polishes, dyes, and drugs.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
CR is used mainly in the rubber industry but is also important as a raw material for adhesives and has different latex applications such as moulded foam, rubber sheeting, sound insulation and gaskets.

Chloroprene
CR is used mainly in the rubber industry but is also important as a raw material for adhesives and has different latex applications such as moulded foam, rubber sheeting, sound insulation and gaskets.

Chlorosulfonated polyethylene (CSPE)
CSPE’s weatherability, UV stability and adhesion capability have made this material very popular as a commercial roofing material. Other applications include wire and cable sheathing and paint.Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde is used in a wide spectrum of products.  In construction, formaldehyde is still widely used as a binder in insulation products as well as commonly as an adhesive in wood panel products.

Halogenated flame retardants
Flame retardants (FR) are compounds that when added to manufactured materials, such as plastics and textiles, and surface finishes and coatings that inhibit, suppress, or delay the production of flames to prevent the spread of fire.

Hexavalent chromium (aka Chromium-6 )
It's corrosion resistance make it a first choice as an alloy or plating in the production of stainless steel. Hexavalent chromium is used to produce CCA (chromated copper arsenate) that is applied as a preservative in the treatment of structural timber.

Lead
Lead comes with a long history of use, but in recent times we have become aware of its potential to render harm to humans. However, it still plays a role in the construction industry, primarily in roofing applications.

Mercury
Though previously applied to a wide spectrum of products and processes, mercury's toxicity has become highly restrictive of general useage.

Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs)
PFCs are used to make stain, heat and water-resistant products including fire protection agents, floor polishes and paints. They are also used to manufacture non-stick coatings.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
PCBs are synthetic organic chemicals that were manufactured for use in various industrial and commercial applications - including oil in electrical and hydraulic equipment, and plasticisers in paints, plastics and rubber products. Useage has become severley restricted in recent years.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
Such is the height of the PVC industry's econmic profile, that critiicism from GreenPeace and others has provoked the producers of PVC into a series of intense and acrimonius confrontations.

Polyvinylidene Chloride (PVDC)
Polyvinylidene Chloride is synthesised from ethylene dichloride. Introduced by DOW Chemicals in 1939, the PVDC monomer is used in the manufacture of barrier coatings, fibres and plastics.

Pthalates
Phthalates are esters of phthalic acid and are most commonly found in plastics, and primarily, in PVC as plasticisers to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity.

Short-Chain Chlorinated Paraffins (SCCPs) (aka Chlorinated alkanes)
SCCPs are found world-wide in the environment, wildlife and humans. They are bioaccumulative in wildlife and humans, are persistent and transported globally through the environment