Case study: Koru Architects director’s award-winning eco home

Mark Pellant, the director of Koru Architects, and his son Alexander live in a bespoke new eco-home that Mark designed and built.

Koru House in Hove, West Sussex, demonstrates how a contemporary self-build can make a difference architecturally, environmentally and save money by generating its own 100% renewable energy, meaning no more utility bills.

The design of the detached home combines timber weatherboarding and extensive glazing. Koru House uses 50% less energy than a typical UK house, and emits 93% less carbon. It comprises three bedrooms, a home office, two bathrooms, a living room, an open plan kitchen-a dining room, a utility room, a garage and a garden.

Mr Pellant explained:

“The economic and environmental benefits of a house like this are extensive.

“It was constructed using green building practises and materials, demonstrating how sustainability principles can be adopted without sacrificing on aesthetics or comfort and also making huge savings on running costs.”

Koru House’s structure is created from the latest technologies that are thermally-efficient, air-tight and erected in just six days. It comprises mostly natural materials, such as sustainably sourced oak panels, zinc roofing, hemp and wood-fibre insulation, recycled glass for kitchen countertops and lime-based natural paints.

These materials are breathable, biodegradable non-toxic and low in embodied energy. A green sedum roof was also included to provide a haven for wildlife.

UK households spend an average of £1,630 per year on energy and water, yet Koru House generates all its own energy and sells back into the national grid – bringing in a net income £2,500 back into the household.

Water conservation is also an important part of the design of Koru House. A 4,700 litre rainwater harvesting system is used to provide water for the garden tap, washing machine and dual-flush toilets, achieving a further annual saving of £200 per year.

Julia Arnold, director of Sussex Home Hub which supports local people during the various stages of building a new home, said:

“Mark’s house showcases his professional expertise as an award-winning eco-architect. We hope this encourages other land and property owners to build their own new homes.

“Sussex residents are gradually realising that this is a fantastic opportunity for local individuals to create their own new homes and Sussex Home Hub is a forum offering free advice and introductions for those who want to build their own new homes.

Ms Arnold added:

“The benefits are fourfold: First, it contributes to solving the national housing shortage without total reliance of volume builders who nearly all come in from other counties and bring in their own workforce.

Second, it creates work for Sussex professionals and builders within the local house building industry.

Third, it creates more architecturally attractive new homes that are sympathetic to the local Sussex style of architecture and can also be eco-friendly.

And fourth, it allows Sussex people to make money from the house building boom, and not just the big-name volume housebuilders.”

Koru House was awarded the prestigious RIBA Download Prize for sustainability and has featured in the annual Brighton and Hove Eco Open Houses show six times.