The Green Loft Conversion

Everyone told me that it would be stressful. I was hoping they would be wrong. But they weren’t.
Having a loft conversion is a gigantic pain. But it was definitely worth it!
I’ve decided to share some of the choices we made, to help to others who want to expand upwards and keep the process as green as possible.

Bathroom
Our loft room has an en-suite toilet and shower room.
I probably looked at a thousand toilets online trying to find a ‘normal’ toilet with a simple wooden toilet seat, before coming to the conclusion that it just isn’t possible. To save on carbon emissions from transport I chose ceramic ware produced in the UK by classic company Armitage Shanks. The toilet has a low water dual flush (4-2.6 Litres). I chose a simple design and ordered the cistern and pan with no seat, then bought a wooden seat separately. This is the model I chose and ordered at Aqva. John Lewis do FSC certified oak seats. Modern toilets often have unusual seat shapes, which are only available in plastic and hard to replace if they break.

The shower is from a UK based firm called Crosswater. We ordered it from Sanctuary Bathrooms*, who were very quick and efficient. I chose to avoid ‘digital’ showers with LED displays as it seems like there’s more to go wrong. In an attempt to avoid non-recyclable materials, I ordered an enamelled steel shower tray from Kaldewai. It took an age to arrive, andwas damaged in transit, so unfortunately I had to hastily choose a resin replacement instead. It seems very sturdy and will hopefully have many years of use. We chose a simple glass shower screen from Hudson Reed* to keep the space light and clear.

For the floor and shower enclosure we chose natural limestone tiles from Mandarin Stone. Their Flax Honed Limestone comes from the Antalya region in Turkey, and is shipped in containers to the UK. This is from their company environmental policy: We are increasingly aware of the demand for sustainable materials, the impact of the carbon footprint and green issues relating to our planet. The long term durability of stone, porcelain and ceramic means that replacement costs are reduced and the lifetime cost is actually less than that associated with more inexpensive floor and wall coverings … We have compiled documentation from all our overseas stone suppliers, to prove they are legally certificated and have ISO systems in place to be compliant with their country’s environmental and health and safety laws. We visit most of our suppliers’ factories or quarries and confirm they are compliant with regard to their employees’ safety together with their respect for their surrounding environment.

Energy Use

We have an array of 8 solar panels on our roof (3 on the top row, 3 on the bottom row with a hole in the middle for a Velux window). Green gas and renewable electricity are from Ecotricity. Our hot water comes from a pressurised cylinder which is heated (on sunny days) using an electric immersion heater, powered by solar PV. We have a magic box called the PowerFlow which diverts energy from our solar panels to the immersion heater before exporting any excess.

Painting & Decorating
After trying out various natural paints, such as Auro and NPC, we have settled on Farrow and Ball for quality and durability. “Our water based paints are low odour, eco-friendly and safe for you and your family to use in every room of the home. From our recyclable paint tins to our responsibly sourced wallpapers, ensuring our paints and papers are as kind as possible to the environment is at the heart of everything we do.”
All of our natural wood floor, skirting and doors are treated with Osmo Hard Wax Polyx Oil. We used their water based wood filler for any small holes and joins.
loft conversionFurniture
The loft is mostly furnished with second-hand furniture which we have moved upstairs from elsewhere in the house.
Rug: Fair Trade BAFTS GoodWeave certified kilim rug made from natural materials, now sold at Ethical Superstore*.
Bed: Futon Company sustainable rubber wood bed base with a second hand mattress.
Desk: IKEA untreated solid wood trestles and table top

We’ve also added two swift boxes to the outside wall, hoping to entice some of these wonderful birds to share our home when they arrive back from their winter travels!

Contractors
The first mistake I made was spending months looking for ‘eco-builders’. These specialist companies work with environmentally friendly materials but are very hard to track down. Unless you have a big budget and live in a city, you’re probably gonna have to find a conventional building firm that is happy to work with your specified materials.

We chose a young local architect who was very enthusiastic but didn’t have a lot of experience, especially in working with natural materials. The wood based insulation system he specified added over £10k to the first quotes we received, and was losing us a lot of headroom. We ended up with compromise: using modern insulation but sticking firmly with solid FSC wood for the floor, stairs, skirting and architrave, and a strict no MDF policy throughout.
If I ever have to do a loft conversion again (heaven forbid) I would use a specialist loft company who do the complete design and build. And make sure they have reliable plumbers and honest electricians who they work with…
If you’re thinking of expanding upwards or outwards, feel free to get in touch with any questions. I’d love to think that the experience we gained during the process could help others make their building work greener!
*Affiliate links are marked with an asterisk. If you buy anything after clicking on one of these, a teeny-tiny percentage goes to support the running costs of my website at no extra cost to your lovely selves.

 

5 thoughts on “The Green Loft Conversion

  1. looks fantastic! I love finding sustainable ideas for interior design, and love small space living solutions. I am in love with the simple book shelves. And great amount of light!

  2. Wow this is not only beautiful so so thoughtfully done! I live in an apartment about this size of the loft by the looks of it, and I have some good ideas now for when we start to refinish a bit 🙂 the paint and getting unfinished furniture wasn’t something I’ve thought of before.

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