Earthwise Construction were appointed as the principal contractor to oversee the construction of a new build co-housing scheme for a Bristol based co-operative housing association.

The brief was to build three one-bedroom dwellings within a single building, including shared communal laundry facilities and a spare single guest bedroom/future carer bedroom. Built to the AECB silver standard (which uses Passive House methodology) the building is of timber frame construction. It was clad with wood fibre insulation and a mixture of locally sourced Welsh timber cladding and lime render.

The project involved close collaboration between us, the client and design team to come up with most appropriate design given budget constraints and difficulties with the ground conditions. During the build we worked with members of the co-operative on volunteer days to carry out some of the easier tasks, such as insulating the building, scorching of the larch cladding and installation of the green roof. This collaborative approach meant that the project was a resounding success and one we are very proud to have been a part of.

The project has featured in a number of publications, including Passive House Plus, The Timber Journal, Green Building, The Bristol Cable and the South Bristol Voice.


Due to budget constraints we had to come up with innovative solutions to the systems the house relied on. As a result, we created an integrated whole building MVHR system which served all the flats and we installed a shared hot water system, using a thermodynamic panel and hot water tank. We also advised that, as the building had a large P.V array which provided all the power for the building, it made sense for the building to be totally electric (so no gas was installed).

Materials used

In addition to the materials mentioned above, Velfac triple glazed windows and doors were fitted, and Lindab Steel guttering and down pipes were used throughout.

I would have no hesitation in recommending Earthwise Construction, they were a real pleasure to work with. It was pleasing to see the attention to fine detail of the building’s design (e.g. ensuring that it achieved a good level or air-tightness) and in the constant consciousness that the most sustainable materials were used and that material waste was minimised. They have successfully delivered a group of fantastic sustainable apartments that are going to be wonderful, low-cost homes for co-op members for years to come.

Trevor Houghton, Somewhere Cooperative Housing Association