Self Building an Eco Home in The UK

Did you know that buildings contribute to 35% of energy consumption worldwide?

Self-building an eco home in the UK has become an increasingly popular choice for self builders looking to embrace sustainable living while creating a unique and environmentally-friendly home. Taking a more sustainable approach to self building can play a part in reducing greenhouse gases and energy consumption, so it’s growing popularity is a positive step toward fighting the global climate crisis.

Choosing to build an eco home offers countless benefits, from reducing your carbon footprint to achieving energy efficiency and an overall healthier living environment. In this article, we’ll explore some of the essential steps to consider for self-building an eco home in the UK.

SIP self build bungalow

Designing & Building Your Eco Friendly Self Build

When it comes to designing and building your eco-friendly home, there are a few factors to consider in the design itself.

Building Materials

When it comes to building materials, there are several that are more eco-conscious than others with less impact in manufacturing them. However, this is not completely black and white and some materials can offer some eco benefits while also not being completely eco-friendly.


SIPs are a great sustainable building method that have become increasingly popular with self builders. They are a relatively new building method. However, they offer a number of great eco benefits including excellent energy efficiency and quick installation time.

Furthermore, the exterior OSB is fabricated using material extracted from fast growing trees. As these trees grow back quickly, the impact of cutting them down is minimal.


ICFs are another highly energy efficient building method that are worth considering for an eco friendly self build. ICF structures are very airtight, which leads to generally better energy efficiency and thermal lag helps preserve the indoor air temperature as the outside air cools.

Although ICF construction is very energy efficient, therefore contributing to a lesser consumption of energy over time, the use of concrete does mean that there are some environmental considerations for this method.

Sustainable Bricks

While traditional masonry isn’t necessarily the most eco friendly building option, there are sustainable bricks available on the market if traditional brick and block construction is something you are considering. Sustainable bricks include:

  • Hempcrete bricks made from hemp, lime, and water. Due to the amount of CO2 that’s used in growing and harvesting the hemp, these bricks are actually carbon negative
  • Green leaf bricks made from 100% recycled scrap
  • Recycled glass bricks made from old glass bottles broken down into sand

Other Eco-Friendly Ideas

  • Use repurposed or recycled materials wherever possible. For example, reclaimed or recycled wood can be used to create ceiling beams or a wooden flooring that has plenty of character.
  • Environmentally friendly windows such as composite windows or aluminium windows
class q barn conversions

Building an Energy Efficient Eco Home

Another consideration for building your eco home is ensuring that the energy efficiency and durability of the home is taken into consideration. The best way to make your home more energy efficient is to think about reducing the amount of energy lost through the most vulnerable areas of the building – walls, attic, windows and doors.

There are many measures you can take to improve energy efficiency. The first is choosing an efficient build method, which we have already covered off. Another consideration is insulation.

Low quality insulation ultimately leads to a less energy efficient home, so investing in quality and sustainable insulation is a high priority. It’s best to avoid materials such as PUR and PIR (both derived from polyurethane) as these are non-sustainable plastic options that, while popular, are not very eco friendly.

You can try opting for one of the following options instead:

  • Mineral wool insulation: Often used to insulate loft spaces, mineral wool can also be used in its more rigid form (batts) in wall construction.
  • Natural insulations: Such as sheepswool, newspaper and hemp

In addition, choosing efficient and sustainable double glazed windows and insulating doors is another consideration. Double glazing have a layer of inert gas between the two panes which keeps warmth inside the home more effectively. In addition, opting for aluminium frames instead of uPVC can be a more sustainable and insulating option than using plastic.

wind turbine for energy efficient home

Using Eco-Friendly Energy Sources

By harnessing renewable resources like solar panels, wind turbines, and geothermal heat pumps, self builders can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of their eco build. These energy sources not only can power your home efficiently but can also contribute to a healthier planet by minimising the use of non-sustainable energy sources such as coal and gas.

In addition to the environmental benefits, opting for such energy solutions often leads to long-term cost savings by comparison. For example, although solar panels are a larger upfront investment, with a payback period of between 6 to 9 years, using a solar panel system is likely to save you hundreds on your electricity bills for years following that.

Government Schemes for Eco Friendly Self-Builds

The UK Government also offers several eco-conscious home incentives that you can take advantage of when building your self build home.

  • Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI): This scheme is a financial incentive to encourage the installation of heat pumps, biomass boilers and solar thermal systems. The Government will pay a different amount depending on your home.
  • Heat & Buildings Strategy: This scheme is offered by the Government who will pay a £5,000 grant to households installing a heat pump, bringing the cost down to that of a traditional gas boiler.
  • Smart Export Guarantee: The SEG makes energy companies pay households for any excess renewable energy they produce and then sell back to the grid, to be used by others. This means if your eco home generates electricity through solar, wind, hydro or biogas, then you can be paid for energy you don’t use.
  • Local Authority Grants: Some local authorities in the UK offer grants or incentives for eco-friendly home improvements and energy-efficient upgrades. These programs vary by location, so we recommend checking in with your local council.

Written by Scarlett: SEO Content Writer