Green Build

Caroline has lived at Penpell on and off for 68 years. Farming was in her blood, as her grandfather and father farmed here for almost 70 years (from 1944), but she chose to be a musician and teacher for her career. Retirement and Covid changed her perspective on life; the need for greater understanding of sustainability in all spheres of life, especially in education, seemed so obvious. This is why she decided to build an eco-home, and use the Meadow as a Green Awareness and Learning Centre.

If you have ever seen a Grand Designs programme on TV you will know that every home-build project comes with many headaches.

Caroline’s Green Build was no different.

50 years ago The Meadow was quite ‘tidy’
20 years ago the Cow Shed was a mess
Both barns had walls full of cracks,
built without foundations

A lot of demolition was involved, before re-building could happen.

Both barns rebuilt with new foundations

For the cottage, with Nudura walls finished, it was time to add the roof. Again the choices were taken to achieve high insulation levels and fit in with other farm buildings nearby. That’s why metal slate was used, above thick metal-covered panels.

Oak roof trusses go on

Thank you to Will at

Then insulation panels
‘Meta-Slate’ on top

Green Energy systems arrived early. The first solar PV array in 2015 attracted a good tariff and did an excellent job of heating a tank of hot water for the Cow Shed. The much later second PV installation, on the garage roof, has a minimal tariff and the energy mostly into the Everhot cooker, with solid metal mass as storage. But the down-side was that in winter there was insufficient power to heat the water, hence the addition of a biomass boiler.

Ground mounted solar panels
Everhot stove, running 24/7 stores solar heat

Biomass boiler

The cottage was ‘signed off’ by Building Control in March 2019. It took at least 9 months more to iron out little glitches, especially with the computer side of the biomass system. But eventually solar and biomass worked seamlessly and efficiently. And the result was …

Beautiful inside
And beautiful out!

Last but not least was in Spring 2021, when the monitoring equipment for Eden Project was installed … not part of the build here, but supporting a major innovation in green energy for Cornwall.