Hockerton Housing Project is excited to announce it has released its own housing standard fit for the future world of zero carbon houses. It is called the Hockerton House Performance Standard and outlines the requirements that houses will need to be built to in order to achieve a sustainable low impact world. Unlike the Passivhaus standards these are free to use and go far beyond what Passivhaus can achieve. They are there to inspire!

Minister for Housing Nick Raynsford visiting Hockerton Housing Project

Nick Raynsford MP launches HHP

Since the visit of the Minister for Housing Nick Raynsford at our opening we have been pushing the boundaries of construction. Our latest development of nine houses is taking shape with the walls going up in Howgate Close, Eakring with a predicted SAP score of 142! Jerry Harrall is delivery the project and writing Howgate Close, blog.


Eakering Howgate close foundations

Howgate close foundations

The UK is facing a crisis in housing which requires a dramatic change in how houses are designed and built to achieve the carbon reductions necessary to meet our climate change targets. With this in mind we are proposing standards of construction to inspire people to construct very high-performance houses factoring in embodied energy and within sustainable communities. The lifestyle of the people living in houses affects emissions of carbon significantly so cannot be ignored. A well-engineered house and designed community space will help inspire them to reduce their carbon emissions. Inspiration can lead to action given the right environment.

The imbedded House Performance Standards are performance based to allow individual designers and builders to create their own solutions. This should encourage creativity and enable future solutions to be incorporated in the finished houses.

These performance standards have been inspired by Dr Robert Vale, Professor Brenda Vale, Mr Nick Martin and the practical experience of the members of Hockerton Housing Project since 1993. They have drawn on General Information Report 53 produced for the Department of Environment Transport and the Regions by the Building Research Energy Conservation Support Unit. More recently the Leti “Net Zero Operational Carbon” targets have pushed us!

The Hockerton House Performance Standards

There are five subsidiary standards:

  1. Hockerton-Zero,
  2. Hockerton-Heat,
  3. Hockerton-Embodied
  4. Hockerton-Water,
  5. Hockerton-Community

Combining these five standards will create houses fit for the future.

If you are a lecturer or student and want to design your own tour find out more here.

How does HHP manage its autonomous water systems at this time of year? As spring arrives, we are planning ahead. We have been pumping rainwater up to our reservoir for the last few months. It is very nearly full at the moment which feels great. We could be going into a dry period so may need it to last quite a long time. We have over 150 days in the waterbody which means self-sufficient living does not feel risky. I am fairly sure it will rain again in the next 5 months!

How many rainwater harvesting systems do we have at HHP? We have three systems one using the reservoir which supplies the bulk of our water, a second one supplying our drinking water and a third more informal system catching water from a shed roof to help supplement watering the plants. Having diverse systems helps you become resilient.

Top Ten Tips for Rainwater Systems

The top ten ways I would suggest to improve a rainwater systems:

  1. Maintain the collection area so things like gutters are clear and clean. This means you will not lose water when it rains and your filters will have less work to do.
  2. Keep a record of when you change the filters so that you know when they are due to be done next time.
  3. Keep an inventory of the stock of filters so you are aware when you need to buy more.
  4. As mentioned above have more than one system so if one fails you have another water supply to hand.
  5. Regularly check the level of the store so you know how much water you have and adjust your behaviour should the tank become near empty.
  6. If you plan to have a drinking water system, consider using concrete tanks instead of plastic tanks for storage as these help reduce the acidity of the water, limit food for bacteria and improve the taste.
  7. Improve the resilience of your rainwater system by having a large storage tank. The amount you can store enables you to continue to use water between rainfall events. If you believe climate change is going to increase the variability of rainfall, then I would suggest you err on the side of caution and have as large a tank as possible. This will enable you to keep going for as long as possible with your own supply.
  8. If you want to collect rainwater on a budget, I suggest buying a device that you fit into a standard down pipe that collects the water without any leaves etc. The water collected can be diverted to something as simple as a dustbin or other watertight container. You will supply yourself with a surprising amount of water. There is a local supplier of off the shelf systems called Stormsaver if you want a whole house system.
  9. If you want to treat a large amount of water that is not for drinking, I suggest a slow sand filter. The name suggests it does not supply enough water but in fact they can. It all depends on the area of the sand and the depth of water above it.
  10. If you are using a slow sand filter to treat your water be attentive to th
    Rainwater system Slow Sand Filter at Hockerton Housing Project

    The water from out store is treated through this slow sand filter.

    e top 25 millimetres of sand. It is this where the Schmutsdeke lives that does most of the water treatment. When the flow rate reduces you will need to reduce the thickness of this layer but I would suggest only removing about 10 millimetres so there is sufficient left to continue treating the water to some extent when you refill the filter.

Our Rainwater Systems Products

If you want more information, we have chapter written on our water systems which has good clear information and advice. Get chapter 7 here. We also have one on our unique hot water systems chapter 4 and one on the value of autonomy, chapter 12,  which you may find useful.

People come on tours to see our systems and we get some good revues.

Subject: Today’s tour!

Dear Debbie, Matthew and Simon,

Thank you so much for the tour today. As always, it was a great way for the students to see and connect many different aspects of the material covered throughout their Environmental Management MSc, and a nice eye-opener for our international students, who are predominantly from India/Pakistan/East and West Africa (some of whom haven’t left their accommodation since they arrived in the UK in January!). Thanks, too for the added XR discussion. Hopefully, there’ll be a few more additions to the XR academy, now!

In other news, we’ve a new MSc course starting in September, on Renewable Energy Management. So it might mean even more attendees next time around, but perhaps by then we may be back in person.

All the best,


Book your tour here.

Date posted: March 23, 2021 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Rainwater Harvesting Water systems

Over the past 18 years we’ve hosted thousands of students of energy, water, and environmental sciences but increasing number of visits from other strands of academia is both heartening and fascinating.

Recently we hosted Nottingham University’s School of Mathematics, as part of their work on MASS: ‘Modelling and Analytics for a Sustainable Society‘, and are delighted to hear we were cause for both inspiration and optimism.

“HHP showed me that I was wrong and it is possible to live in a (much more) sustainable way without diminishing our quality of life. I would even argue that the ‘Hockerton lifestyle’ might even be far more enjoyable than the busy, consumption-focused lifestyle most of us enjoy”

“Highlights on the day included “the house tour as we got to see how it all came together in reality”,  “the aquaponics, as this was not something I was aware of before, the conservative and careful use of water (e.g. less filtered water for showering and the toilet), their own water filtration systems and being off the grid for water”.

“[we] were all surprised at the toasty warm floor despite the absence of any central or secondary heating!”

You can read their views in full here, or contact us to find out how we can bring your area of work or study to life for your students, colleagues or clients.

Date posted: October 27, 2016 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Eco homes Renewable energy Water systems

Every 3 – 4 months we read our 50 power and water meters to check how we are doing in terms of consumption, generation and export.

Each household pays for their share of consumption relative to use, with any income from the export of renewable energy shared equally between us.

The resultant figures help us remain aware of our use, not least because we see it relative to (or in competition with?!) our neighbours. It also reminds us how well these houses perform. This can become easy to forget when the house is your home – until heatwaves like this week, when we could feel the difference as the thermal mass soaked up any heat that made it through shaded windows.

* Our average daily energy use was around 23% of a standard house (per house, not incl the garages).
* We exported 38% of what we generated, compared with 48% in the winter
* We earn around 4p for a kWh exported but pay on average 7.5p per kWh we use, so over the last 4 months we’ve missed out on energy worth £145.
* In the last 4 months we’ve generated the equivalent of 95% of our total household use (not including our shares in our community-owned wind turbine of course).
* And we are using 260 litres of water a day per house on average. Potable: non-potable is 1:11. This is a similar ratio to that in the first quarter but an increase overall. Average usage per person is 82 litres, compared with Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5 and 6 target of 80 litres – perhaps due to higher number of washes during peak vegetable gardening season!

Hockerton Housing Project has installed solar PV equivalent to a third of its annual energy use.  The remainder of its energy needs (which are all electric) are met by two domestic-scale wind turbines.

Hockerton Housing Project is looking for community energy projects who want to learn from our experience, to take advantage of a new Mentoring Fund.

The scheme is only open to applicants until 12 December 2013, but successful applicants will receive support through to March 2015. It’s a rare offer of funding for community projects that aim to:
·      Generate energy
·      Reduce energy use, and/or
·      Manage and purchase energy

We have a range of experience to share, in terms of scale and technologies, in energy generation, reduction and management. And we are experienced in mentoring a range of projects, having run a similar service through the Energy Saving Trust, as well as our current advisory services.

We would be particularly keen to partner with multiple organisations to improve the cost-effectiveness of our application, with the programme starting with a joint workshop here at Hockerton before moving on to a mix of one-to-one support, community outreach and shared learning initiatives.

Find out more about the fund here, noting the eligibility criteria. If you are interested in the mentoring scheme please get in touch by 2 December, telling us a little about your organization and what you are trying to achieve in the next 18 months.

We look forward to hearing from you!
The HHP team