Waltham Forest Green Open Homes

Submitted by: Sue Wheat

Waltham Forest may not seem like the typical place to find a selection of ‘green’ and sustainably built homes, but the success of last year’s first Green Open Homes in the borough showed otherwise.

It showcased 12 houses, a shop and a café and revealed that urban East Enders are just as interested in eco-refurbishment as the country’s more rural residents.

This year 12 homes and two housing developments are opening their doors to the public for Waltham Forest’s Green Open Homes on 16 and 17 May, managed by The Hornbeam Centre.

Green Open Homes’ events happen around the country, and are similar to the now famous Open House Weekend but with an eco twist.

People who have taken measures to make their homes more energy efficient, or made use of eco-friendly or reclaimed materials in their homes or gardens, throw open their doors to the public to share their knowledge, techniques and inspire others to do the same.

It was a serious problem of mould and damp caused by condensation in our single-brick walled Victorian house which led to our eco-refurbishment journey.

We also wanted to reduce our hefty bills and be part of the change needed to reduce domestic energy consumption to fight climate change.

We internally insulated our walls – in effect building a cavity stud wall, insulating it, and putting up a new plasterboard wall inside the house on every external wall.

We also installed a heat recovery ventilation unit which removes moisture from the house without also removing the heat.

Other measures include upgrading our old boiler and installing a wood burning stove appropriate to London regulations to heat the downstairs.

Since starting, we reduced our energy consumption by 52 per cent – that’s 3.3 tonnes less C02 being released in the atmosphere.

This year Green Open Homes range from a grand mansion in Leyton with every single type of energy efficiency intervention you can imagine.

We’re also excited to showcase two community-led building projects.  Headway Gardens in Chapel End – E17’s first and just completed self-build social housing project with Circle 33.

The Wood Street Owners and Residents Association will also open the doors to their ambitious refurbishment of two 1930s mansion blocks.

The focus this year is also on small changes everyone can make to save energy and cut costs.

All of the Green Open Homers have their own unique story to tell though, which is what makes this yet another inspiring story about Waltham Forest’s amazing forward-thinking community.

More info:

16 & 17 May: Waltham Forest’s Green Open Homes. Visits are free but booking is essential for most venues. www.hornbeam.org.uk/greenhomes

7 June: Green Homes DIY Workshops. Learn how to make planters and furniture from reclaimed wood, how to lay loft insulation, how to grow your own salads, and lots more as part of the borough-wide We Love Low Cost Living campaign. www.hornbeam.org.uk