Greenhart Grove Huntingdon – An Ecological Success Story

17:51 Thursday 24th November 2011
Drive BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

: Our reporter Johnny Dee, let’s find out what he did today. Because it was all connected with the fact that the Energy Secretary Chris Huhne was in the news after telling the House of Commons he was hopeful energy bills would eventually come down, once people had taken advantage of all energy efficient measures available. Johnny Dee then went to Greenhart Grove Huntingdon, where the 29 flats and houses completed last year have been fitted with some of the most advanced environmental technology on the market. So has it meant reduced bills? (TAPE)
JOHNNY DEE: The first unusual thing about them immediately that strikes you is the rooftops are not slate or tiles, but they’re grass. And in front of me I’ve got a long terrace, a lot of houses here, seven or eight properties, but of course all joined together. And on top, if I just step back, I can see we’ve got what looks like three cricket twenty two yard wickets, on top. You’ve got a wooden facade here. They’ve got panel effects, and they’ve got solar heating and all sorts. I’m going to knock on the door of Mark. Let’s see if Mark’s in. Oh hello Mark. It’s Johhny from BBC Cambridgeshire. Sorry to bother you today.
MARK: That’s alright.
JOHNNY DEE: You live here of course.
MARK: Yes.
JOHNNY DEE: And this group of houses here has got some quite unusual properties, haven’t they? What do they actually do?
MARK: They’re eco-friendly. They’re one of the most eco-friendly houses in Britain.
JOHNNY DEE: We’re inside your front room. The thing that struck me straight away was the grass on the roof there.
MARK: Yes. That’s to help with insulation, and also to help the house blend in to the local area.
JOHNNY DEE: How long have you been in for yourself Mark?
MARK: August 5th last year.
JOHNNY DEE: And when you moved here, did you notice straight away a big difference?
MARK: Yes. Well, from October onwards, when the winter started to turn the worst, we didn’t have to have the heating on. They’re quite warm houses. So even now, even though it’s been cold, the heating hasn’t been on at all yet. Because they do keep the heat in very well.
JOHNNY DEE: And what sort of heating system do you employ here?
MARK: It’s solar powered heating. So we get the rays from the sun. And also, what we don’t use gets put back to the grid. So we should, in time, in theory, make money.
JOHNNY DEE: And you’ve lived on what we could call a normal house before this.
MARK: Yes. I have indeed.
JOHNNY DEE: And what’s the difference like in the bills for instance on all the energy?
MARK: The bills are quite good. And being a single father it’s fantastic, because the savings that I make go straight back into my pocket, for me and my little man. My gas has virtually halved. Electric, just under half.
JOHNNY DEE: And how do family and friends react when they come round here and see the grass on the roof, because that tickled me to see that?
MARK: It does. Because with the house still being brand new, not everybody knows where they are, but you say to people, oh they’re the houses with the grass on, they know exactly where you live.
JOHNNY DEE: Is it quite dangerous when you get the old Flymo and the flex up there to cut the grass?
JOHNNY DEE: Obviously you just leave it, and it doesn’t grow very long, very much, does it?
MARK: That’s why you get good neighbours, to go up and cut the grass for you. (LIVE)
ANDY BURROWS: Good stuff. That was our man Johnny Dee out and about in Huntingdon today.