Built on the grounds of a 1960's car showroom, designed for the future.
Whilst looking for a warehouse to store our inventory, and quickly realising that nothing available suited our needs, or felt right, we decided to build our own sustainable, renewable and eco-friendly showroom. From January 2021 to December 2021, an untouched car garage has transformed into what we hope to be an example for the future.
On this page, you will find ten headlines of our build, yet there are so many more intricate details to mention. From solar panels, to recycled materials, every aspect of the build has had 'ECO" at the forefront of every decision.
We're grateful that so many businesses have shared our vision and thank them for their services:
Cornerhouse Building Contractors
Gavin Jones Electrical
Willow Carpentry Services
Plus the many individual contractors who have provided their expertise and contributed along the way. Thank you.
Here's what we started with: a disintegrating roof, an overgrown jungle and 'relics' from the past. Having not been touched in over 20 years, the state of the showroom was a mess to say the least, yet the foundations were solid and a perfect size for what we need. All we had to do was adjust some of the walls to suit us.
Solar Panels & Energy Storage
No eco-build would be complete without Solar Panels. On top of our showroom and carport sits 16 No. 385Wh, south-facing Solar Panels, generating up to 6.16kW per hour. These charge up 2 No. 5.2kWh batteries, providing plenty of energy to run the showroom and to keep our cars at a good level of charge.
With sustainable methods of generating electricity covered, finding a sustainable source of water was next. At the back of the carport sit 4 No. IBC tanks, holding up to a total of 4000 litres of rainwater. With the average yearly amount of rainwater in Brixworth being just under 4000 litres, we should have plenty of water to flush the toilet and prepare our cars!
One of the most visible features of our Eco-Showroom is the Thermowood Cladding. The sustainably-sourced wood is heated to a high temperature causing it to be more durable and stable. Rather than using new bricks, applying a render, or painting the walls, the cladding allows for the benefit of a natural, appealing aesthetic, with 20% more thermal resistance than regular timber panelling.
To complement the Solar Panels and Thermowood Cladding, the front half of the roof has been laid with Sedum trays. Not only does this look amazing, it also has multiple benefits. Throughout the year, birds and insects (especially bees) are attracted to the Sedum, and within a week of laying the Sedum, this was very noticeable. The Sedum also helps to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, to which we've calculated that up to 0.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum (or the equivalent to a standard fossil fuel car driving 2000 miles) will be absorbed by the Sedum!
To work hand-in-hand with the Rainwater Harvesting & the Sedum, we have utilised copper gutters, as they are more recyclable and durable than plastic ones and more appealing to the eye. The solution to ensuring clean, harvested rainwater is copper guttering, as the copper filters any harmful elements, algae, and fungi. As mentioned, we are harvesting rainwater for washing cars, flushing the toilet, and for a washing machine. A mesh filter that connects the gutters to the tanks provides more prevention from anything unwanted from entering our rainwater, without having to treat it using chemicals.
A fully insulated building has the benefit of maintaining its ambient temperature better, reducing noise pollution (not that EVs make any!), and will be significantly more energy-efficient, reducing the need for additional heating or cooling. For our Eco-Showroom, we have three layers of insulation, one around the interior, one around the exterior (walls & ceiling), and flame-retardant expanded polystyrene filling the wall cavities, providing a total of 150mm of insulation on/between the walls and 120mm of insulation on the ceiling/roof. The plywood boards around the interior and Thermowood cladding around the exterior also provide added insulation, keeping the inside warm during the winter, and cool during the summer.
To finish the interior, we wanted to insulate the original brickwork and still maintain a smart backdrop for the cars. As an environmentally friendly alternative to using plasterboard, we selected a birch-faced plywood boarding, that not only looks amazing but can also be re-used in the future for other purposes. The doors and windows are aluminium, rather than uPVC, allowing them to be recycled in the future. The majority of the plumbing utilises copper, as opposed to plastic.
Whilst the walls and ceiling focus on sustainability, the flooring we sourced also has a second life as it is recycled rubber interlocking floor mats, providing a firm base for our cars to sit on (EVs are heavy!), whilst providing a smart, industrial feel to our showroom.
Reused Materials & Furnishings
Rather than buying new materials to complete our showroom, we've utilised materials we already had or re-used our contractors' surplus materials. This included the majority of the bathroom, from the wall tiles to the bathroom fittings, including the cabinets, basin, tap, and toilet. The same goes for the furniture in the showroom, which we sourced from a local office that no longer needed it. The purpose of this is to re-use where possible and minimise the pollution that comes from the production and transportation of new furniture.