Building type Business
Building age 1800-1914
Location Lawshall
Cost of work £ 275,000
District Babergh
Features Solar Hot Water Heating,Wind Turbine,Natural Materials,Biomass Boiler,Rainwater Harvesting,Insulation and Glazing,Climate Adapted,Waste and Recycling

The aim of The Foundry project was to produce a building that sits lightly on the earth both in its construction and user life, and to be a shining example of sustainable building skills using local materials and labour. The Foundry was built as headquarters for the Green Light Trust, whose mission is ‘bringing communities to life through working with nature’, and is often used for community environmental education sessions.

An existing redundant timber-framed traction engine shed – The Foundry – has been dismantled and refurbished to provide an Environmental Education Centre for the East of England. This provides the necessary training space for theoretical and practical skills in community development and sustainable woodland management. It also provides meeting rooms and office space for community use as well as environmental education.

Sustainability Features


Hemp and Lime insulation for roof, walls and floor. Lime mortar was used throughout, as it is more energy-efficient than concrete to process and manufacture. The locally grown hemp absorbs CO2 as it grows and the finished product can ‘breathe’ naturally. This means no need for plastic or foil membranes and ensures excellent internal air quality, good soundproofing and excellent thermal performance.

Building Materials

All internal walls are wattle and daub, using our own clay and hazel

Biomass Boiler

KWB USV D 15 woodchip boiler. After an initial net cost of £17,500, the wood chip boiler will in around 10 years’ time be run solely on coppiced timber from our local community project.

Solar Hot Water

Water heated by home made solar panels

Natural Paints

Double glazed timber windows with linseed oil paint. Natural linseed oil paints have low environmental impacts compared to conventional paints. Using timber with natural paints means the windows can be recycled at the end of their life with no environmental penalty.

Rainwater Harvesting System

Only drinking water is bought in. This particularly important as East Anglia is the driest part of the country.

Reed bed sewage system

All soil & waste is treated using bark rings and a reed bed, breaking sewage down on site using natural biological processes.

Wind Turbine

Proven 15 m tall 6kW wind turbine, costing £18,725. On initial estimates we will produce an excess of around 6,000 kWh which will be fed back into the national grid.


Design Process

Tortuous, frustrating elongated planning process with BDC and Environment Agency, but eventually successful. Excellent relationship established with Building Regulations.



Interest-free loans – now all repaid

SET grant

EEDA grant

2,500 volunteer hours


Green Lifestyle

We have wood KWB 15 kW boiler – eventually to be fed by our own rotation coppice in 21 acre woodland attached to The Foundry. Solar panels are to be installed in the summer. The rainwater harvesting for grey water system works well and means that only drinking water is brought in. Staff also walk or cycle to work as much as possible, further reducing the environmental impact of the Green Light Trust.



The building is excellent, but if possible the Green Light Trust would have repositioned it to be more south facing for more solar gain. The Wind Turbine continues to be problematic, but these issues will hopefully be ironed out. A new kitchen and meeting/training room is also in the pipeline. The features that have worked the best with the least effort have been the reed bed and the home made solar panels, which are both excellent.

Internal environmental performance report (March 2011):


In the last 12 months, we used 5.44 MW of energy from the grid and we produced 3.9 MW that we sold back to the grid. This equals a saving of 2.1 tonnes of CO2e emissions from energy use.

The 6kW wind turbine has improved its performance after engineering improvements in August 2010 and we hope for higher microgeneration figures in 2011.


We use a biomass boiler that feeds on sustainably sourced local woodchip. During the last 12 months we used around 16 tonnes of woodchip. We plan to fix a fault on the system and once this is sorted we hope to have better temperature control to take advantage of the solar gain. We hope to be woodchip self-sufficient in few years’ time.


During the last 12 months we used 16 m3 of water supplied by a water company. The rest was supplied through the rainwater harvesting system that largely reduced our water bill. The system is able to provide all the water for toilets. Zero water went to sewage. We treat our water in our own reed-bed sewage system. This has a great effect on our carbon footprint as treating water is energy demanding.


In the last 12 months we produced estimated 2,080 litres of landfill waste, 6,250 litres of recyclable material (mostly paper) and 190 litres of compostable material. These estimates include waste from visitors to the Foundry and walkers who visit our woodland.

We re-use what we can, like envelopes, flipcharts or cardboard. We recycle the things we can’t re-use and we compost and vermi-compost most of our organic waste. We aim to send zero waste to landfill from the Foundry in 2011 and ask our staff working from home or visitors to try and do the same.


Suppliers and Professional Services Used

Modece Architects

Nigel Gaskell local builder,


John Stebbing Architect



2006 “Sprit of ingenuity award – RIBA East Sustainability

Bricks and Mortar Sunday Times 2006