PERCHED on top of a by luckboy


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Survival of the planet
Mike Hillard outside Tranquility in Rodborough

Words by Sue Smith Pictures by Sarah Standing

ERCHED on top of a Cotswold hill with breathtaking views over the heart of Laurie Lee country sits a house that is not only stunningly beautiful in the making but is also a prototype for the survival of the planet.
It is the most eco-friendly house on earth according to its owner, passionate eco-warrior and property developer, Mike Hillard. But forget hair shirts, straw huts


and denial, this house, despite boasting an annual water bill of just £9.50, simply oozes luxury from every pore of its sustainable wood. Step through the front door (made from sustainable Douglas Fir) and immediately feel the natural warmth from the huge solar room which is the hub of the property, with terracotta tiles on the floor to soak up the rays of the sun. South and west facing it is 9m x 9m and 6m tall with 158 square metres of glass which allows the solar energy in to provide nearly all the space heating in the house. Bananas, papaya, pineapples, lemons and three types of grapes swell up from the ground in abundance as do passiflora and a host of other exotic flowers and tropical tree ferns. Nestling amongst the

plants is a hot tub from where it is possible just to lean over and pick a fresh lemon for your gin and tonic. The house, named Tranquility at Rodborough, near Stroud, has been designed as the first fully sustainable home. It was designed from scratch by Mike as a “problem solving house” for the planet. It is completely eco-friendly and built to withstand the climatic changes expected within the next 50 years, including the turning of the Gulf Stream. It is the lowest energy economically viable house that anyone has managed to build and having spent three years getting it just right Mike now intends to roll out his designs across the country under licence. Although this one cost him close to £500,000 he is confident that building any house to this standard should not be more than six percent above any normal build cost. In the kitchen there is a beautiful largely MDF kitchen, granite worktops and a stone floor from a local quarry. Timbers for the floors and doors have been sourced from the Forest of Dean and Westonbirt Arboretum. All the lights in the house are very low energy, brighten gradually and simulate natural daylight. The dishwasher needs no salt just a very small amount of detergent and rainwater and the loos are set to less than half flush. “It is entirely possible to live in luxury on zero carbon,” says Mike. “This house is testament to that.” Mike is passionate in his belief that there’s an environmental crisis looming and he has been on a crusade to save the world for as long as he can remember. “I was writing papers about renewable energy in 1962 and by the




Inspiring life in the Cotswolds

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