Sustainable living in The Greenhouse

by Halit Bozdogan
(Manchester, Lancashire, England)

With depleting energy resources the world over, it’s important that each country tries in some way to do their part. From recycling initiatives to hybrid car production, green living isn’t just a cause, it’s a necessity.

England has opened its first self sustainable building in the city of Leeds, Yorkshire. Simply put, The Greenhouse is a collection of homes and offices powered by sustainable energy. Everything about The Greenhouse adheres to the concept of green living.

The beginning

The building itself wasn’t built purposely for this. That would go against the whole concept. No, it was ‘recycled’ and renovated from its original incarnation; a lodging house for seasonal workers in the area circa 1938. Known then as Shaftsbury House, the original design was part of the modernist era. Eventually, like so many things, it fell into disrepair over the years. In 2004, it was discovered and proved to be the perfect location for The Greenhouse project.

Sizing it up

Drill testing for water flow rates proved positive as it was discovered that an ecological system could be implemented for water distribution, heating and cooling. From there, the slow process of refurbishment and green design took hold. However, the developers didn’t want to just completely ignore the heritage and history of the building. This is why the design complements that historical context by incorporating exposed concrete, timber and brickwork along with modern touches and colours.


The most important element of The Greenhouse is, of course, its sustainability. Across the board, this has been the key driving factor to the concept. Looking internally at the apartments inside, you can clearly see that making the most of the resources available is priority. This includes ground sourced heat pumps and a sharing of the heating/cooling systems across the apartments and office spaces. There’s also a real time monitor system of electrical usage and water usage to regulate billing

Although this is only the tip of the iceberg, it demonstrates a keen insight into the way living can and should be done. This is far from the full potential of The Greenhouse however. On the roof you’ll find wind turbines that generate the power for the floor lifts and corridor lighting. Reliable solar panelling heats the water supply through thermal energy, whilst grey water and collected rainwater is used for a variety of cleaning tasks to provide a sustainable resource that reduces the use of fresh water.

The solar panelling alone consists of 212 square metres, which are capable of producing over 64,000kWh per year. The grey water and rainwater collected is equivalent to around three Olympic swimming pools, whilst each apartment will save on average one tonne of CO2 annually. Almost three quarters of the lighting used in The Greenhouse are low energy fitting, whilst every appliance is rated at least ‘A’ for energy usage.

From a percentage point of view, a person living in The Greenhouse will have over 50% cheaper energy bills than a normal household. On a final note, each resident is also entitled to grow their own vegetables in a nearby designated allotment. This food is also used in the incorporated Deli bar located on the ground floor.

This commitment to low carbon emissions, manageable energy usage and sustainable resources are inspirational, but can only happen if the community of the building take an active part to ensure that green living is something that happens on a daily basis. At the moment, it looks like it works wonderfully.

About the author

Halit Bozdogan is a writer for Appliances Online, a UK white goods retailer, providing many low energy consumption domestic appliances.

{Images via author’s own. Information courtesy of}

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