I’ve been a fan of www.houzz.com for a while – a website with ideas and recommendations (and lots of photos) for people building, renovating and decorating their house. It’s US-based but has always had some UK-oriented content.

Now there’s a dedicated UK site at www.houzz.co.uk which has much of the same content but which lists products from UK suppliers and UK design professionals.

A lot of the content is rather “high end” but it’s good for deciding what you like, and what you don’t.

AECB Annual Conference, Bristol, 11 – 12 July 2014

I’m just back from the 2014 Association for Environment Conscious Building conference – two days in Wills Hall Conference Centre at the University of Bristol. I’ve been a Supporter member of the AECB for two years now and I also attended last year’s conference in Bradford. I briefly lived in Bristol over 20 years ago, quite close to Wills Hall, and it was good to go back for a visit.

The annual conference is attended by roughly 200 of the 1400 AECB members and is an interesting mix of relatively technical presentations (which I like very much), some more political discussions, a small exhibition of sustainable building materials and services and a lot of networking with like-minded individuals.

Both years I have come away with lots of leads to follow up on. This year they include:

  • The AECB Low-Energy Buildings Database which aims to provide a comprehensive index of real-life low-energy buildings – both new-build and retrofit – including a comparison of their predicted and measured performance
    • Some of the entries are fairly sparsely populated with information but the entry for the Denby Dale Passivhaus looks pretty comprehensive
  • The new Passivhaus categories: Passivhaus Plus and Passivhaus Premium, alongside what is now called Passivhaus Classic. The new categories take account of on-site renewable power generation. More info here.
    • Since I’m planning to include a Solar PV installation I’m wondering if Marsh Flatts Farm will “automatically” qualify for one of the new categories…
  • The Green Register of Construction Professionals.
  • The Ariston NUOS Air Source Heat Pump Hot Water Cylinder
    • A hot water cylinder with an integrated air-source heat pump and ducted air intake and exhaust ports
    • Further research shows there’s a similar alternative from a different manufacturer, the Ecocent
  • A range of home monitoring and management solutions: