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Low Carbon Cottages - EPCs and Carbon Footprints

Autumnal LCC

It has been an exciting time for the Low Carbon Cottages project. We have had loads going on, from visiting some of the CAfS Green Build events, working with Tadea and creating EPCs for all 10 cottages in the study group. we have also been calculating the carbon footprint of the cottages in the study group. The project has also been engaging many local companies to identify what products and skills are available in Cumbria to assist the project and see if the project can help promote them. 

Last month we confirmed the majority of our study group, see previous article, and we are now happy to say that our 5th pair of cottages has been welcomed into the project;

Church Court Cottages in Gamblesby, Eden, ran by Ruth and Peter Watters 

We are so excited to be working with these cottages, of which with have 10 dotted around Cumbria and the Lake District, and we have tried to create as a representative selection as possible.

Last week we completed the EPC assessments of the 10 properties with a mixture of E & F energy efficiency ratings and the RdSAP (software that operates the assumptions within the EPC) predicted with changes to the properties these ratings could be improved up to E – A, showing the huge diversity within traditional properties. There are issues with relying solely on an EPC, which highlights retrofit suggestions such External Wall Insulation, Solar Panels and Wind Turbines, which are complete inappropriate in some of these properties.  See my Blogs on issues with Insulation and condensation and planning permission within the Lake District National Park to find out why.

We have been working away and created a direct carbon footprint of the last 12 months of the study group cottages as a measure to see how effective the retrofit has been. The scope of the carbon footprint is purely operational (doesn’t include the building or maintenance of the house) but includes the utilities used; electricity, gas, water, sewage, oil, coal, wood, waste and recycling, depending which are appropriate for each property, it is inclusive of all 3 scopes;




Average house (electricity & gas)




Cottage 1




Cottage 2




Cottage 3




Cottage 4




Cottage 5




Cottage 6




Cottage 7




Cottage 8




This shows the great diversity within these properties that are occupied between 35-54% of the year, whereas the average house is nearly always occupied. the relatively low occupany rate but high carbon footprints highlight how important property management and retrofit is. The purpose of the retrofit is to find best practice in reducing these emissions, using a Life Cycle Assessment of the retrofit process itself, we will be able to measure exactly how effective the retrofit actually is.

If you want to calculate your own carbon footprint, there are loads of free online calculators to play with;

Gov.uk - household or individual calculator

National Energy Foundation - Carbon calculator

Guardian - Quick Carbon Calculator

We are still looking for volunteers who have been trained in using Thermal Imaging cameras who would be willing to help with the project, we can provide transport, a camera and an extra pair of hands, but we need help with basic interpretation. If you are feeling a bit rusty we have a property you can use to practice on, if that helps. Please email me; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call the office 01539 822622. Or if you have any further questions or ideas on the project please get in touch.

Also please see a Brochure about the Low Carbon Cottage Project; PDF



Murley Moss, Oxenholme Road, Kendal, Cumbria LA9 7RL     T. 01539 822622    E. info@nurturelakeland.org  get directions >

Nurture Lakeland is a part of Nurture Cumbria, a charity registered in England and Wales with the charity number 1130453 and company number 3317259

photography featured in top header courtesy of  James Bell PhotographyJames Bell Photography