When the UK’s Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband praised communities in Oxford recently for working to make the city “the green capital of Britain”, some might have been surprised. But the fact that this event is now in its third year - the biggest and best yet, with 24 properties open to view - is testament to Oxford and Oxfordshire's positive and leading response to climate change.
These eco-buildings look like ordinary houses, offices (and even boats) on the outside - but looks can be deceptive! From simple to sophisticated, these buildings use the latest green design and technology innovations to cut their energy and water use and lower their carbon footprints. On your visit, you will be guided by the owner-developers or other ‘experts by experience’ - an inspiring way to share the excitement and challenges they faced in realising their green building. Across the Open Days of 2007 and 8 combined, over 1,000 such visits were made.
Amongst the featured properties on view in 2009 are the stylish conversion of the Harcourt Arms pub in Jericho (now four highly insulated houses with a large solar photovoltaic and solar hot water array) and the ‘Solar Electric Victorian Terrace’ in east Oxford, whose solar photovoltaic roof makes the house a net exporter of electricity! Other highlights include the zero carbon straw bale staffroom at the Old Music Hall, Cowley Road (zero metal, zero concrete) and a special talk on solar hot water at work at the Oxford University Press in Jericho.
If your visit inspires you to get creating your own green property, Oxfordshire ClimateXchange and COIN - organisers of the Open Days - will be on hand recruiting members for the new Oxfordshire Eco-renovators Club during the event. Over the next 12 months, club members will receive support, advice and discounts to enable them to take their next eco-renovation step. (See www.climatex.org for further information.) And if you're not in Oxfordshire this weekend, how about investigating the other Eco-buildings Open Days happening at the same time in Stroud, London, Norfolk and the Mendips?
For the full list of Oxford & Oxfordshire properties on view this weekend, click here. For more ecovation information, visit: www.ecovation.org.uk