Tag Archives: off grid

Eco-friendly garden offices & studios from Gembuild

Garden offices, studios and buildings by Gembuild are naturally a very ‘green’, eco-friendly, choice. Eco-friendly garden offices, studios, houses and buildingsThe main construction elements are carbon neutral because the timber used is taken from sustainable sources where new trees replace those which were harvested for the buildings. The new, young, trees lock up increasing quantities carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they continue to grow over the long life of the Gembuild outbuilding.

Gembuild uses an unusually high specification for insulation to roofs, floors and walls (100mm of insulation in walls nearly 7 inches thick!), as well as installing high quality double-glazing to windows and doors. This means that very little is required from the customer in terms of heating. This optimum combination has a marked benefit for the environment because very little generated heat is allowed to vent to the atmosphere — which also helps to keep heating bills to a bare minimum. It also means that the garden studios, offices and houses stay at a more constant temperature throughout the entire year rather than always being too hot in Summer and too cold in Winter as happens so often when homeworkers attempt to work from a conservatory or from an inferior outbuildings with thin walls and lower insulation standards.

Sedum and wild flower covered roofs are available as an optional extra on some of the Gembuild range (see page 20 of the price list for details). This type of roofing has is very natural-looking, blends in with the surroundings and provides important micro-climates for wildlife including insects and bird life. It also further reduces heat loss by acting as Continue reading

Want an Off Grid Garden Office? We spoke to Eco Shed of the Year Winner, Kevin Holland

“I just want a comfortable life without being held to ransom by foreign owned energy companys and to do my bit for the planet,” said Kevin Holland, winner of 2012 eco shed of the year.


Kevin is a former community policeman who calls the headquarters of his renewable energy business, a solar shed.  Although traditionally a man’s domain Kevin admits he hosts community meetings as well as charity events in his workshop.

Kevin had to pay up front for solar panels but now the 250w Philidelphia M60’s feed electricity back into the grid.

“The more energy efficient you are, the less money you spend, “ Kevin said.

“My own house dates back to 1480 and used to cost me over £1500 in oil and £800 in electricity bills. Now I spend about £500 on oil, and that will be down to zero within 2 years due to other measures.

“My electric bills are paid for by the money I receive from having a feed-in tariff, so I suppose, yes, it is worth it.”

Kevin Holland was going around council estates and participating in energy saving projects. Ten years on he transferred this knowledge to his shed, house and business in the Norfolk countryside, putting dreams into practice.

“Ideally, an insulated shed costs less to heat if using it for a workspace, “ Kevin said.

“And the golden rule of renewable energy is insulate before generate, or reduce before you produce.”

“Years ago, everyone had an Anderson Shelter to protect them from Mr Hitler’s bombs. Today’s risks are very different; fuel supplies, water shortages, waste disposal, and energy security. “

“My panels are grid tied and feed power into the workshop where we have an office and all the freezers that store our food that we grow.”

That said, in addition, part of Kevin’s rainwater system runs over the panels keeping them at optimum temperature.

”I can’t find better panels for the UK Climate, but inverter technology has slightly improved since I had mine fitted,” Kevin said.

“The company Samil are now doing an inverter with a 99% efficiency as well as a 20 year extended warranty.”

Kevin could also have suggested using the natural light in more of a usual way. When you choose your windows plan for the path of the sun in winter as well as in summer.   With a lower winter sunlight it is more likely to need lower tree trops.  You might even want to think about adding some sky windows.

A rough guide for the overall area of the windows is to leave one fifth of the wall area transparent for maximising the use of the sun.  Then with that done, standard solar lights cost nothing more than the original outlay as they charge during the day.  There is, for instance, a d.light at £30 that has a good beam and also charges your mobile phone.

While Kevin is a passionate eco shed spokesman there are different exents that you can follow.   But what then is the need for additional products?

“Once a space has been made comfortable, one should look at lighting and heating, “ Kevin said.

There may be grants available to help with energy saving installations. One place to start asking questions is the UK’s energy savings trusts.

Kevin Holland has an array of trophies for his enterprising feats and he is ready for every eventuality. The well-known “ Be Prepared” of the boy scout’s motto seems fitting enough when it comes to designing and building a garden office.

“If the Russians turned the gas taps off and we had a drought, I could live quite comfortably because of the renewable energy measure I have put in place, “ Kevin said.

Kevin’s words may sound drastic at the outset but he probably would have won the Scout of the Year award.

Energy savings trust Scotland http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/scotland/Organisations/Innovation/In-depth-energy-advice/Small-business-loans

Energy savings trust England


Kevin Holland Twitter https://twitter.com/TheSolarShed

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SecondNatureUk

Centre Alternative Technology http://www.cat.org.uk/