Lorton, Cumbria CA13 0RF

Call: (+44) 1900 821055

Mail: info@southwaitegreen.co.uk

Lorton, Cumbria CA13 0RF Call: (+44) 1900 821055 Mail: info@southwaitegreen.co.uk

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Environmental Living

Mike Reaney writes about heating and hot water at Southwaite Green:


Utilise free energy from the sun, air and ground all the year round to reduce the carbon footprint of the development.


The heat pumps use electricity to draw energy from the ground (Skiddaw and Esther’s Barn) and air (Buttermere and Beckside) into the heating system of the cottage. This generates a portion of renewable energy, which, unlike other forms of microgeneration will over time increase, as the UK grid becomes cleaner. A solar water heating system, which takes energy from sunlight to heat the hot water, boosts the renewable content. On days that are very dull or cloudy, the heat pump kicks in as a back up system to heat the hot water.

How It Works

Low-grade heat is extracted by an antifreeze mixture (food grade) flowing through 600m of exceptionally tough polyethylene pipe buried in the field. The energy in this fluid is then boosted to useful temperatures by the heat pump.

In the case of the air source heat pump, the energy is extracted from the air by a fluid with a very low boiling point. This allows energy to be collected even on the coldest of days. The unique feature of this system is its inverter drive which allows it to vary input to match demand. It may sound simple, but this allows a much higher year round efficiency than conventional air-source heat pumps.

Unique Features

There are very few systems in the UK which integrate heat pumps and solar water heating into a single system. The system at Southwaite Green is the very first time that solar water heating has been integrated with this type of inverter drive air source heat pump.

The inverter driven air source system has a role to play providing low cost heating, in situations where a ground source heat pump would not be practical or economic. In particular it will become a useful tool for addressing fuel poverty in social housing schemes.

About the system designer and installer – Arctic Air Cumbria

Arctic Air Cumbria’s broad engineering experience, particularly in the field of refrigeration, enables them to design and install efficient reliable micro-generation systems based on heat pumps.

Accredited by range of heat pump manufacturers including Diakin, Glen Dimplex and Stiebel Eltorn, Arctic Air aims to impartially help the client choose the ideal solution for his needs.


Mike Reaney

John Lyon writes about the design of Southwaite Green:

Southwaite Green holiday accommodation occupies the site of former barns and outbuildings, which in poor condition and with few redeeming features, were considered inappropriate for conversion. They are replaced on a similar footprint and with relatively similar massing to retain authenticity of the original farm cluster grouping.

It has been unusual in our experience to have a specific approach from a Client intent upon such an environmentally focused project, which triggered a period of research and investigation, including consultation with the Centre for Alternative Technology at Machynlleth. They confirmed our developing opinion that all issues are interrelated and thereby a holistic approach was inevitable.

We sifted such technical information as is increasingly available and with a degree of pragmatism, selected what seemed appropriate to the budget, timescales and other influencing realities, particularly in the adoption of materials, components and not least servicing, that best reflected our Client’s purpose.

Adopted sustainability issues include redevelopment of a brownfield site, recycling of site specific materials, complementary natural materials where available, high specification timber windows and glazing, use of excavated material for landscape features, partial undergrounding, high standards of general insulation including some natural and recycled materials, adoption of thermal mass as a heat sink, ecological paints, low water usage fittings and rainwater harvesting, solar power water heating, ground source and air source heating systems, low energy lighting, green electricity source and non mains drainage incorporating reed bed.

Architecturally, we revisited the functions that underpin Lakeland agricultural vernacular, the farming requirements that determine the form of buildings that are an inherent part of the landscape, and found within them a palette and language which seemed to justifiably adapt to the domesticated purpose of our new build. The tall openings of whinnowing doors accept staircases; cart shed piers provide openings to sun lounge windows; the projecting canopy which shelters doorways from the excesses of Lakeland weather presents itself as a brise-soleil to windows below.

A re-interpretation of tradition carried forward into the future.