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Did Home Logic Appear On Grand Designs?

If you did a double take when you watched Grand Designs in September 2016, then you're definitely not alone. 

Yes, it was us, and no, we didn't get our longed for selfie with presenter Kevin McCloud. We did, however, help to insulate a beautiful treehouse project in the heart of the gorgeous, Gloucestershire countryside, in the sleepy market town of Durley-set just a half a mile away from the River Severn.

As the preferred partners on Icynene, Grand Designs asked us to appear on the show to install Icynene open celled foam into the roof of this 4 bedroom, detached abode.

Needless to say, the fact that it was situated 40ft up in the air certainly posed some challenges-one of which being that the construction was hidden away in the foliage, rendering conventional methods, such as fibreglass, inappropriate for the task at hand. 

The owners were also under strict instruction from the council only to build on the condition that the 27 trees on the site were not disturbed.

What's more, the clients were keen to keep the green theme going in terms of the efficiency of the build as well. As a 100% water blown foam, Icynene was the perfect product for the job, ensuring the property achieved the strict criteria of Passivhaus Standards for minimising carbon emissions, whilst increasing overall systems efficiency.

In fact, this trend towards creating energy efficient new builds shows no sign of abating-and its easy to see why. The Government has set a strict target of cutting the country's carbon emissions by 57% in time for 2030.

From the 1st of April this year, properties that are rented out privately have been required by law to produce an EPC certificate, attesting that their building has a rating of E or above. Failure to do so will result in fines of up to £4000. 

These stipulations will also apply to habitations that are only partly let as well, such as flats, making improvements in energy efficiency a priority for both property developers and homeowners alike.

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With building regulations becoming ever tighter, the demand for zero carbon design seems set to increase

Achieving Maximum Efficiency: The Importance Of Passivhaus Design

Throughout the show, we were able to demonstrate why Icynene was the ideal addition for building a fully functional home-enhancing thermal efficiency, whilst creating zero carbon emissions in the process.

The great thing about creating a Passive House is that it aligns with most homeowners main aims; namely to achieve outstanding thermal performance, ensure an airtight building envelope, and enable adequate ventilation to allow air to circulate, and moisture to evaporate, rather than remaining trapped within the build itself.

The standard requirements for passive homes like the one we have featured are:

  • The construction of the property must meet annual heating and cooling demands, as set out by the Passivhaus Planning Package.  This is a requirement of no more than 15 kWhm2 (4,755 BTU/sq ft) per  year in heating or cooling energy OR be designed with a peak heat load of 10 W/m2 (1.2 hp/1000 sq ft).
  • Total primary energy consumption must not be more than 120 kWh/m2 (38,040 BTU/sq ft; 40.13 MJ/sq ft) per year.
  • The building must be airtight, not leaking more air than 0.6 times the house volume per hour (n50 ≤ 0.6 / hour) at 50 Pa (0.0073 psi) as tested by a blower door,  or alternatively when looked at the surface area of the enclosure, the leakage rate must be less than 0.05 cubic feet per minute.

Given the strict instructions from the council to minimise disturbance to the foliage and surrounding area, Icynene more than met this mandate. With building regulations becoming ever tighter, and planning permission requirements becoming even more stringent, the demand for zero carbon design will continue to rise.

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Icynene  spray foam offers additional support to your roof's framework and structure, making it perfect for roof restoration

Icynene Treehouse Project: The Science Behind The Success

To insulate the Treehouse Project featured on the show, we used the lDC-50 (H2 Lite) version of Icynene open-celled foam. One of the key benefits of this type of foam is that it allows any moisture present to dry out through evaporation, enabling the building to breathe.

Although first developed in Canada in the 1980s, Icynene has hopped across the pond to offer a successful, long-term solution to all manner of property problems. From damp and mould, to protecting homes from pests-Icynene takes a multi-purpose approach to creating conditions that are conducive to comfort.

A 100% water blown product, Icynene is the only form of spray foam insulation on the market to have achieve BBA, ETA and IAB certifications. Unlike older urethane versions of foam, Icynene doesn't contain any chemicals which are harmful to the environment, such as HFCs, HCFCs, or HFAs.

Although our sprayers always wear the necessary protective clothing, there are no toxic VOCs present in the air after the settling period has commenced (a process referred to in the industry as 'curing.')

Spray foam's environmental merits also extend to the inside as well. By providing a superior seal, airborne pollutants are prevented from entering, making for a healthier home all round.

Furthermore, it has also been successfully tested and certified for applications directly to the underside of breathable and non-breathable roof membranes. It also offers additional support to the structure, making it ideal for roof restoration-thus saving you the exorbitant outlay of an entire roof replacement.

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Unlike traditional insulation materials, Icynene is able to accommodate even the most niche of new build designs

What Else Can Be Done To Create A Zero Carbon Construction?

Despite the fact that Icynene spray foam was the main building material used in the home, several additional measures were implemented to improve the construction's overall efficiency.

To keep costs in check, the majority of the build was constructed using salvaged materials. From the green slate floors that used to be part of a Rolls Royce showroom, to the reclaimed bedroom floors that were sourced from a school basketball court, each feature was given a new lease of life as part of a achieving a eco-friendly new build.

In fact, the sheer innovation of the project even stretched as far as to creating hanging pendants from Ikea lighting fixtures that were cut in half, making for a truly bespoke design that met the very latest standards for sustainable design.

Although Icynene's effectiveness means that your dependence on appliances will decrease, many homeowners choose to take their efforts to achieve a sustainable build one step further. 

In recent years, solar PV panels and solar hotwater systems have become increasingly sophisticated, with a diverse range of designs to choose from, ensuring they blend seamlessly with the material of your existing roof.

Their widespread prevalence among homeowners has reduced the outlay for such systems, making them an affordable alternative to costly electric and gas.

Whether you're staying in your property long-term, or keen to transform it into an energy efficient investment to sell, the Icynene Treehouse Project in the show demonstrated that no matter how niche your construction is, open celled spray foam insulation is able to accommodate it to eliminate air leaks, cut costings, and, ultimately, ensure that comfortable internal conditions become the rule rather than the exception.

Seeking further advice on creating your very own energy efficient 'Grand Design?' Our experts offer a free site survey service to assess your property's needs, and the measures to take to improve its overall performance. Take the first step to creating a zero carbon construction today! 

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