Energy-Generating Community Hub: Europe's 1st straw bale church building, training all ages through self-build and education.

Our Vision

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The M&S Energy Fund

We have asked M&S to help fund either our Solar Panels (visible on picture above) or our Heat Pump - possibly both!  

These features are essential to the environmental vision of our building, making good use of the large South-facing roof and enabling us to follow the Lean, Clean and Green policy of the London Plan.  

As energy generators and on-going income providers, the solar panels & heat pump also play a key role in our strategy to make the building an affordable facility for local people.

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How YOU can help

  • Vote for us today, and get your friends to do the same, so that M&S give us their top award!
  • Make a financial contribution towards our match-funding target.

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Below are some of the outstanding features that make our project worthy of your support.

A Truly Green Building

Many people think Green Building is simply about air-tight construction and energy saving gadgets. Our project goes much further than this, with a commitment to the most sustainable raw materials.

  • Using waste or recycled products throughout, and choosing sustainable, low carbon options where this is not possible, we will achieve a building of extremely low embodied energy. (Please see our film for more info). 
  • Our PV covered roof will more than supply our daytime electric use and generate around 12,000kwh annually.
  • Our heat pump will cover all our warming and cooling needs as well as saving c3,000kg carbon dioxide per year.  
  • Rainwater harvesting will provide for most of our toilet flushing needs.
  • The thermal properties of straw mean low running costs and greater output of generated electricity to the grid.

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A Training in Awareness

Many people equate environmental awareness with recycling cartons or not using plastic bags. Our project offers a huge expansion of such awareness as participants learn to be effective at a whole new level.

  • People of all ages and skill levels can take part in the work, (please take a look at our film).
  • For some, this will spark a life-long interest in engineering, construction or architecture.  
  • For others it will help them move towards employment by offering focused training.  
  • For all, it will provide an environmental education rooted in a lasting local facility of which we can be proud.
  • The completed building will continue as an educational resource for local school visits. 

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A Vision for Community

Many public buildings are brilliantly designed, but fail to bring local people together in the manner of their construction. Of our project, it has been well said that “the building of this community building will build community!”

  • This unique project combines the rural landscape with urban needs in a single unifying vision, (please take a look at our film).
  • With local schools’ involvement, this project will involve hundreds of people in hands-on green building.
  • Straw bale methods are particularly empowering for women and girls so our project builds respect and equality in our relationships.
  • The result will be a local centre used, maintained and loved by those who built it.
  • As a pioneering example, the project will inspire other churches and groups to achieve their own straw bale community buildings.

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A Wise Undertaking

A community self-build involves a number of specific risks, but with wise planning these can be addressed and minimised.

  • Quality control can be an issue with novice builders.  Fortunately, our main partners, Straw Works have extensive experience of self-build projects and will provide expert training and oversight.  
  • Using volunteers is very inclusive and great for community cohesion. But it takes longer than normal building. By carefully staging the work we can keep momentum going whilst reducing the risk of running out of cash at a crucial point.
  • There are huge opportunities to keep costs low in a community build, but it is more difficult to predict the final bill compared with getting fixed tenders. Having direct control over every stage of the work, however gives us flexibility to respond as necessary to alterations to the budget.

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A Lasting Legacy

Every year local people get married in Holy Trinity Church. In the future, at their receptions, they will be able to say that they, their parents, their grandparents built the hall they are sitting in. 

  • Low running and maintenance costs will mean that a superb yet affordable resource will be available to local people of limited means.
  • High efficiency and energy generation will future-proof the centre against price rises.
  • The outstanding insulation properties of straw, mean the Hub will be quiet for neighbours and comfortable for users.
  • Careful design allows individual rooms to be used without affecting the security of the whole, whilst in combination with the existing church the whole site offers an excellent conference or festival venue.
  • The high fire-resistance and flexible strength of straw bales mean that this building is projected to still be used in 200 years time

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Our Guiding Principles

  • Usability (it must be fit for purpose: anything less will be a waste);
  • Do-ability (we aim for as much construction as possible to be undertaken by community volunteers and trainees);
  • Simplicity (it must be affordable and elegant, whilst remaining easy to maintain by volunteers in decades to come);
  • Longevity (we expect this building to still be used in 200 years’ time);
  • Affordability (every aspect is value-tested and negotiated to benefit the project);
  • Sustainability (every aspect must make as low as possible impact on the environment).

3bef153609418c0752efe498f9b178fb.jpgYou can help by voting for our project!  

Vote for us today, and get your friends to do the same, so that M&S give us their top award!

Make a financial contribution towards our match funding target.

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For more information...

Go to our website www.wecanbuildourchurch.org.uk for more info on this project and straw bale construction in general.

Will a straw bale building burn down?  Watch this test simulating an Australian Bush Fire: www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8iTVVBVxUA 

Will a straw bale building fall down?  Watch this simulation showing why straw bale buildings are now being used in earthquake zones! www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtV04KAxDco 

Interested in Straw Works, our main partner? Visit www.strawworks.co.uk/ 

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