Kevin McCloud reveals his top 10 green heroes
Kevin McCloud tells Isabelle Fraser about his ‘green heroes’, the products that blend style with sustainability
Kevin McCloud has been instrumental in encouraging Britons to get on and build their dream home. With a focus on the environment, he’s also contributed to the public’s growing consciousness about becoming more eco friendly.
McCloud’s top tip is that you don’t need to add hi-tech gizmos to your house – or build it out of hay – to go green. “Start with the simple things like turning the thermostat down to 18 or 19 degrees (66F) rather than 21 (69F),” he says. “We could all probably insulate our attics more, draught-proof our windows and doors and fit double glazing.” It doesn’t sound very Grand Designs, that’s for sure.
“Insulation may not seem sexy but it’s much cheaper and delivers quicker cash and energy savings than solar panels or a heat-exchanging thermodynamic hybrid heat pump with gofaster stripes,” he says.
For those who do want to invest in new ideas to help save the planet, he’s come up with a list of his “green heroes”, the products that represent the best design and construction ideas to help those who want their homes to be more eco-friendly.
1 CLAIRE POTTER DESIGN
Based in Brighton, this firm uses sustainable materials to create interesting and innovative interior designs.
At last year’s Clerkenwell Design Week, Claire Potter made a Ghost Gear Chandelier from recovered fishing nets while working with the World Cetacean Alliance. The company has now turned to bottles, manipulating them into unique and sculptural light fixtures that catch and reflect the light to create an eerie, transparent jellyfish effect. In the UK we use 38.5million of these single use bottles every day, of which 16million are put into landfill sites. We should not just recycle them but reinvent them, says McCloud, “and upcycle them into beautiful and useful objects.” clairepotterdesign.com
2 LIGHT EARTH BLOCKS
Eco-friendly builders can use these bricks to build homes. They are made from waste by-products, straw, earth and chalk, and are created using the excess heat from brickworks. hgmatthews.com
3 GIY MYCOFOAM
Started as foam to replace products such as Styrofoam, the people behind Mushroom Packaging have started experimenting with using it as insulation as well.
Not only is MycoFoam compostable, unlike some of its rivals, but it is also fire-resistant and totally natural: GIY stands for grow-it-yourself.
The substance is created by taking agricultural waste which is then ground down, sorted and cleaned, before adding mycelium, the vegetative root structure of a mushroom. This acts as a glue, binding it together.
MycoFoam needs to grow for a few days before it is ready to be used. ecovativedesign.com
4 COFFEE LOGS
Made from recycled coffee grounds, these eco-friendly briquettes are a handy fuel source. Each log is made in the UK out of the grounds that come from 25 cups of coffee, and burns hotter and longer than wood. They can be used in solid fuel stoves, chimineas and open fires, and are completely carbon-neutral. bio-bean.com
5 HUSKEE CUP
After heating your water using fuel made from coffee grounds, why not drink from a cup made from coffee husk? These elegant, ceramic cups keep your drink hotter for longer while staying cool to the touch, and are reusable, dishwasher-friendly and durable – they don’t chip or crack.
The cups are made from a by-product of processing coffee that cannot be disposed of sustainably. The average coffee drinker is responsible for almost 7lb of this husk waste a year. The team behind Huskee are recycling
hundreds of tons of waste from coffee plantations in Yunnan, southern China, by producing these cups. McCloud described the product as “better functioning than many cheap ceramics, and very beautiful”. huskee.co
This 3D-printed dome can heat a 215 sq ft room in five minutes with just four tea candles.
How? It has a two-layer design: a smaller, inner dome heats up quickly and radiates heat to the outer dome, which then pushes air out into the room.
It is safe to touch, and it is made of terracotta, which allows it to store and release heat slowly. eglooinfo.it
ItI looks just like leather, butb this material is made from pineapple leaves, a b by-product of the harvest. Fibres are extracted from the leaves using a process called decortication, which also creates a biomass that can be used as organic fertiliser or bio-gas. The fibres are then shipped to a factory in Spain where they are turned into a textile.
Ananas Anam, the developer, works with farmers in the Philippines to provide them with an additional source of income while creating a material that needs no extra land, water, fertiliser or pesticide to produce.
So far, the company has created bags, shoes and clothes, but soon there will be furniture. ananas-anam.com
8 THE USED KITCHEN COMPANY
You recycle your waste, so why not your kitchen? Not only does it help the environment to reuse furniture, it makes financial sense, too: this company offers ex-showroom and secondhand kitchens with as much as 70 per cent off the retail price. You can sell your old kitchen through it, too. theusedkitchencompany.com
9 TRANSPARENT SPEAKER
This first appeared on Kickstarter, the crowdfunding website, in 2012 and was hugely popular.
Stripped to the bare minimum parts, the speaker looks sleek, creates a rich, balanced sound and can be connected to Wi-Fi to stream music from portable devices through it.
It’s also ecologically minded: nearly every part of the speaker can be replaced and the old parts are recyclable. eu.transparentspeaker.com
This new source of wood veneer and flooring is a viable alternative to cutting down old-growth trees that are hard to replace and precious to local ecosystems.
Smith & Fong, the development company, uses palm timber from across Central America, Africa, the Pacific Islands and south-east Asia, providing jobs in a sustainable industry and stopping harmful deforestation.
Palm trees become less commercially useful after about 60 years as the production of fruit or nuts diminishes. These trees are cut down and turned into a wood-like material, which can be used for products from flooring to furniture. durapalm.com Grand Designs Live is at the Birmingham NEC from October 11 to 15. Telegraph readers can buy two tickets for the price of one – £17 for a weekday, £20 at the weekend – using the code TEL241 (0844 854 1348; granddesignslive.com).
GRAND DESIGNS Kevin McCloud, main, includes the Egloo, left, a 3Dprinted heater, among his top 10 ‘green heroes’
GROW-ITYOURSELF MycoFoam, below, which is made from agricultural waste binded with a mushroom-based glue, can be used as insulation
SUSTAINABLE CHIC Durapalm’s flooring, left; Claire Potter’s lights made from plastic bottles, middle; the Transparent Speaker, top