Barnsley Hill Farm is considered by many to be Britain’s most eco-friendly home. What it also has over any opposition is a very unusual and indeed controversial quality – it’s completely airtight. The former 17th Century farmhouse, together with surrounding buildings, was recently renovated and has been put on the market with a price tag of 3.5 million British pounds ($5.7m). What’s more, there are no unsightly wind turbines or eco-warrior tree houses to be seen.
The airtight nature of this eco-friendly home which coincidently has a spa, cinema and seven bedrooms, is the most important factor to the success and nature of the residence. The walls, as well as the ceilings and roof, have been hermetically sealed by a polyurethane blanket. This means no air whatsoever can escape or enter. One might think this is a death trap. Well, so did the British planning commission authorities who were eventually persuaded that it was all perfectly safe.
In order to avoid excess heat, stale air and an unbearable stuffiness, the whole interior landscape of the home is fixed up with a sophisticated ventilation system. The result is fresh filtered air that is brought into the house and then later expelled every couple of hours. The designer of the Barnsley Hill Farm eco-friendly home equates the ventilation system to that of a lung.
“Once every two hours the house is completely filled with fresh air. It’s like having the windows open all the time. … People think you need to insulate a house but a fridge only has a tiny bit of insulation. The most important thing is that a house is airtight.”
The airtight nature of the home means traditional heating fixtures such as fireplaces and central heating are redundant. In fact, this is the magic ingredient of this eco-friendly home. Excess engery wastage and pollution, not to mention money, is largely prevented and effectively reduced to a minimum.
“Fireplaces are the worst thing you could ever put in. They draw heat out of the room. Log burners are all right, but not fireplaces.”
The stale air from the home is channelled through a special heat exchange unit which enables the waste air to heat the fresh air as it enters. The fresh air comes through a separate part of the system which means there is no contamination. During the warmer months of the year, the unit uses a bypass system which prevents fresh air from being heated.
In a field nearby, out of view from the house, there is a solar park. Twenty solar panels captures the sun’s rays and then stores the resulting heat in rocks located beneath the ground. This heat is then distributed to the house and swimming pool if and when needed. Heat from the house, during the Summer months, is also stored in the rocks for Winter, in what can only be described as one hell of an ingenious environmentally friendly solution.
“The results are amazing. We are getting so much more energy than we expected.”
There are numerous other eco-friendly instillations in Barnsley Hill Farm. These include a sewage treatment plant which cleanses sewage and reverts it back to clean water. A different water recycling system also collects rain water which is stored for use with washing machines and the toilets.
The property is situated in a popular area with celebrities and even royalty. The English actress Liz Hurley has a house just over the fields from Barnsley Hill Farm. With this in mind, the renovators and owners of the airtight eco-friendly house hoped that it would attract a lot of people to buy the property. This has indeed become a reality with an assortment of politicians, environmentalists and celebs queuing up to be shown around.
All in all, the property uses just 10% of what a regular and similar sized home would use. It is also 100% carbon neutral as well as having a “humidity level of the Sahara desert”. The latter means there are no dust mites, condensation or unpleasant odors. In most other things, the former Cotswolds farmhouse retains much of the original architecture and interior features. These include some beautiful wooden beams which are present in much of the house, including the home cinema room, bathrooms and some bedrooms.
See: StoneBee Developments.