Oxfordshire Eco-buildings Open Days

Homes & buildings invite the public in to see, experience & share the techniques & vision of eco-renovation
Across Oxfordshire, mid September, annually

September 8, 2009
Open Days 2009
A solar electric Victorian Terrace and a former pub are leading the Third Annual Oxfordshire Eco-buildings Open Days from Sep 10 - 13 this year.

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

September 9, 2008
Open days 2008
On the back of their successful 'Ideal Green Homes Show' at Oxford's Town Hall in April 2008, Coin and Climate-X once again invite the public to come and take a look at real eco-renovations in practice. If you've been wondering just how possible it would be to convert your heating system to solar, or if insulating your house really will slash your energy bills, come along and find out from the experts: the homeowners, boat-owners and self-builders who have done exactly that, and more.

19 properties across the county open their doors between Thursday and Saturday this week (click here to download the PDF of full details), ranging from a canal boat to an 18th century villa and a straw bale garden office. As if peeking into other people's homes wasn't interesting enough, visitors get to experience and share knowledge about a variety of hi- and low-tech techniques for future-proofing against life in 'the climate change century'. Not installed the solar panel you always dreamed of because you fear the substantial upfront cost will take too long to recoup through lower energy bills alone? Why not pop in and ask the owners of 45 Trinity St, Oxford or 18 Fernham Rd, Faringdon how long it took them. Strapped for the cash you need to even think about starting to ecovate? The UK government currently gives grants of up to £2,500 for energy-saving home improvements (as do several other bodies - including NPower); why not ask real-life ecovators what they had access to, and follow up your leads on the 'Resources' page of www.ecovation.org.uk (which also details local materials suppliers, useful books and other practical advice).

This is just Oxfordshire's second Eco-Homes Open Day (the first was in November 2007), but the idea is going from strength to strength, and the event's organisers hope that it could soon be the biggest of its kind. Given that Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute has found 'plenty of room for improvement' in UK housing in terms of energy efficiency, it's exciting that Oxfordshire homeowners are getting involved and leading by example at the dawning of the new UK ecovation era. Go along and be inspired!
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