An estimated 20,000 people self-build their own homes every year and many more dream about it.
With the effects of global warming, such as increased flooding, being felt increasingly in the UK and around the world, the aim of green mortgage lender, N&P's competition is to raise awareness of how homes can be built in a more environmentally responsible way.
N&P's competition is open to all home owners, not just N&P mortgage customers, who have undertaken a self-build that is kinder to the environment. The winner will be the entrant whose property has in the opinion of the judges made the most positive impact on the environment. The prize is £5,000 cash.
There are many energy-efficient features that can be incorporated into a new home including: building on a brownfield site – thereby not building on virgin countryside – water recycling systems that re-use household water, super-efficient insulation and double-glazing and energy-saving central heating/water heating systems.
Last year's winners, Lincolnshire architect Jerry Harrall and his family made environmentally- friendly features a priority in their Teletubby home near Spalding. Jerry and his partner Kay Woods describe their four-bedroom, single storey, earth sheltered home as a 21st century low-carbon dwelling. Jerry, a chartered architect with sustainable ecological architecture, occupies Europe's first and only earth-sheltered architect's office on the same site.
Graham Wood, managing director of N&P's surveying arm Hockleys and one of the judges of the competition, says: “This is one of the most exciting residential developments I have seen in my 36 years as a surveyor and a worthy winner – truly a grand design. The aim of the competition was to raise awareness that including more energy-efficient features in house-building is really an option for everyone, from major developers down to the individual. Making homes energy efficient saves people money and helps the environment – everyone wins.”
N&P launched its first green mortgage in 1998. Just two years later in July 2000, N&P became one of the first mortgage lenders to offer a carbon neutral mortgage – developed in association with environmental group Future Forests.
Today, for every green mortgage taken out, N&P plants 40 trees which off-set the equivalent of an average property's harmful greenhouse emissions for five years.
Formed in 1989 to raise awareness of how forests mitigate the build-up of CO2, Future Forests works to offset the damage done to the environment by businesses and individuals. It does this by planting and maintaining forests, measuring carbon uptake, and developing carbon management programmes.