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Who benefits?

Ecology Building Society supports individuals, co-operatives, charities and community businesses in realising their ecological ambitions.

Ian’s story: a local, affordable place to live

Ian is an engineer living in Devon. He lives in an affordable housing project in the village of High Bickington, which Ecology has supported by providing mortgages for a number of residents.

High Bickington Community Property Trust was formed in 2000 by community members who wanted to develop a farm site into affordable homes for local people, as well as workspace, community facilities and woodland. Building on the site started in Spring 2011 and, in July 2011, Ecology agreed to provide mortgage funding for prospective residents, subject to individual circumstances. We waived our administration fee for the mortgages and produced bespoke promotional literature aimed particularly at first time buyers, who we knew would struggle to obtain mortgage finance.

Work on the site began in Spring 2011, with all the properties being constructed to Code for Sustainable Homes level 4, meaning they have high energy efficiency and predicted low running costs – a key aspect of affordability.

Ian moved into the development in March 2012 and is very proud to have his own home in High Bickington. He feels the project is a really positive development for local young people, who can now buy an affordable property in the area rather than moving away – as well as for the rest of the villagers, who are pleased to see them stay. Ian also appreciates the sustainable features of the properties: the insulation means he rarely has to turn on the heating and when he does it's fired by the community wood chip boiler.

Simon and Kari’s story: a finely tuned eco-renovation

A former Methodist chapel built in Yorkshire in 1836 has certainly proved no easy choice as an eco-renovation project. But, having decided that they wanted to live in a home that would be kinder on the environment and their future finances, Simon and Kari decided to restore the chapel to create a contemporary energy-efficient home.

The pair, who both work as jazz musicians and lecturers, have re-designed the interior layout as an open-plan living space that will also serve as a music rehearsal area.

With plenty of ageing masonry, missing roof tiles and draughty openings, one of the biggest challenges lay in reducing the huge heat loss from the building. To tackle the problem, Simon and Kari have insulated the whole building as thoroughly as possible. The chapel is now ready for the arrival of an air source heat pump with underfloor heating system. The new unit is one of the most efficient available and, in conjunction with high-standard double glazing, will minimise the building’s energy needs, helping Simon and Kari to save money on bills and to reduce their carbon footprint.

A welcome result of their renovation has been the reaction of local residents who are delighted to see the derelict building being brought back to life.

Wrabness Community Shop's story: good with people

When the owners of the Wrabness general store retired, it looked as though the village would be added to the long list of rural communities to lose their local shop. Determined to protect a valued community resource, a group of villagers joined forces and came up with a potential solution: the creation of a new shop, owned, managed and staffed by the local community.

The first challenge was to raise the finances needed to relocate and launch the newly sited store. In January 2013, a share scheme was opened; the local community rallied to support the scheme, with £135,455 being raised in nine months. The shares – along with an Ecology mortgage – meant the new shop was ready for its official launch in October 2013.

While it’s still early days, trading has begun strongly, with a clear emphasis placed on identifying and meeting the needs of the local community. The shop not only serves an important practical function by stocking basic supplies, but also helps to combat social isolation by providing a meeting place for locals, with a small café area offering hot drinks and homemade cakes.

Quaker Community, Bamford: an energy efficient makeover

The Quaker Community is a housing co-operative in former Water Board offices at Bamford in the Peak District National Park. The community was established in 1988 and recently relaunched with a focus on hosting retreats and workshops for Quakers and others on community, spirituality and sustainability.

The residents place a high priority on sustainability, growing and cutting logs for wood stoves and maintaining an extensive wildlife area and vegetable plots.

However, the stone buildings (a main house, three smaller family houses and two flats, mostly dating from 1902) were difficult and expensive to heat and were always cold. The main house had an ancient and inefficient heating system using oil and gas.

The community already held a mortgage with Ecology and asked for their help in improving the energy efficiency of the buildings. Using an extension to their mortgage, they insulated the solid walls internally and replaced boilers and radiators, as well as improving wiring and plumbing.

The number of visitors is growing and they have a much more comfortable experience as well as learning first-hand about energy saving measures. The community is now monitoring energy use to try to avoid the rebound effect of keeping the rooms warmer than necessary.

David Austin Associates: energy efficient offices

David Austin Associates is an architectural practice based in Gloucestershire. The practice aims to respect the environment in its designs, and seeks to reduce energy in the manufacture and use of building materials.

Ecology supported the company with a mortgage to purchase their existing rented offices, and then to undertake an energy efficient refurbishment and conversion of the building, which now also includes a flat and a rented space for a local artists’ collective.

 

 

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