Although it is a relatively small and specialised partnership of consultants and builders based in central Brighton, multi-award winning Bright Green Homes LLP has been developing an excellent reputation that far exceeds its stature since its creation by mother and son team, Frances and Alex Hunt, in 2009. This high standing locally was further underlined recently when the company was highly commended at the LABC South-East Awards for Best Inclusive Building. This follows not only a nomination in last year’s LABC Awards, but also PEA Award 2016 recognition within the Homes section, not to mention its success in being named as a finalist in two categories of this year’s National Energy Efficiency Awards 2017.
“We were delighted to receive the LABC recognition, especially as there were some very worthy nominations in both of the sections that we were in the running for,” explains Alex Hunt, Partner. “The fact that the awards covered such a wide geographical area encompassing the likes of all of Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Kent meant that we were in competition with some excellent companies, so we’re really proud of our achievement.”
As for the project that was singled out for praise, while the LABC recognition was a nice bonus, the development was already a great success helped along by the fact that the client was so enthusiastic. “Kyla, the lady that we developed the house for, was absolutely terrific and is probably one of my favourite ever clients,” adds Mr Hunt. “She’s an artist and so naturally had a great eye for design, while she also really wanted to go as far as she could to incorporate natural materials and to include as many environmentally friendly improvements as were feasible within a Victorian terrace house. For instance, we were able to install a Cloudbrook rainwater harvesting system for her WCs as well as low water use sanitaryware, reclaimed timber floors, recycled paint etc…
“As she has severe mobility issues we also installed a new en suite into her main bedroom on the very top floor and a four-storey Gartec lift throughout the entire building. It was therefore a slightly different project to what we’re used to, which brought its own unique challenges, such as the various fire regulations that we had to meet which ultimately required a smoke curtain and an IntelligentMist sprinkler system. All-in-all, however, it was great fun to be involved in.”
“We were delighted to receive the LABC recognition, especially as there were some very worthy nominations in both of the sections that we were in the running for.”
Alex Hunt, Partner
High levels of communication proved absolutely vital to overcoming any challenges and ensuring the success of the project. “The client was with us at every stage by being open to new ideas and interested in exploring all the available possibilities with ourselves and the architect. I also personally have some degree of insight into the mobility issues that she has to deal with as I wear a prosthetic leg, so I know how important it is to have a safe haven that you can get around without too much aggravation. I believe that helped Kyla and I to understand what was necessary, assisted by the architectural firm that we commissioned for the design to ensure that all the required building regulations were adhered to.
“Having come up with what was a fantastic solution we were able to install it all in the right way over the course of around four months thanks to our team and the great set of sub-contractors that we put together.”
The client was so pleased with the project that she is already in talks with Bright Green Homes about potentially doing another development together. “She is an accredited accessibility consultant so we’ve talked about the possibility of advertising our services for other people who may be disabled and looking for more energy efficient all-inclusive homes,” says Mr Hunt. “This is certainly a niche market that we’d be interested in exploring further, but at the same time we’re also looking at readjusting to the more day-to-day bread and butter work that we’d typically carry out.
“We remain a pretty small firm so it’s all about keeping pretty ‘hands-on’ in order to keep the business moving forward. This is made all the more difficult by the fact that there seems little government appetite to do that much regarding energy efficiency, despite all the positive talk that took place a few years ago.
“There’s a massive opportunity within the UK housing industry to make some serious head way on decreasing carbon emissions but unfortunately the will at the very top appears to be missing. Given that estimates say that around 2m homes a year need refurbishing if the targets are to be met, then there’s a huge amount of work that needs doing. Some might see this as a problem but we prefer to view it as an opportunity. We just need the powers to be to provide the necessary infrastructure for it all to take place.”
It is this ‘can do’ attitude that has served Bright Green Homes so well over the years. Hopefully those in power will follow its lead a bit more in the months ahead.