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Hele Sustainability Project
Hele Sustainability Project
Last updated:
Hele , Devon , GB
01235 529266
Climate zone:
Cool Temperate

Hoski Schaafsma Michelle Stephenson Simone Buehner (formerly Davis)
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Hele Sustainability Project

Project Type

Urban, Community, Demonstration, Educational

Project Summary

Sustainability is the great issue and challenge facing all countries of the world, more especially those like the UK that rely on imported goods and energies for their survival. This issue of sustainability is also closely linked with global warming and climate change. UK governments need to think more about ways to produce more of our own foods and energies without involving atmospheric pollution from transport and centralised power stations. The Hele Sustainability project is seen as a model flagship project to answer some of the above challenges in the following ways: a) Very localised food production. b) On site energy production c) Zero CO2 imbalance lifestyle for rural centred workers living in affordable eco-homes with very low overheads. The Hele Project sets out to answer these challenges by: a) On-site biodiverse intense organic foods production for residents and Hele people. b) Autonomous on-site integrated renewable energy systems. For details of these see Addendum references below. c) All eco-homes face South with all their habitable rooms having south-facing windows and walls for maximum solar gain. Back-up heating is by hot water convectors fed from back-boiler in woodchip Aga-style cookers in the kitchens. Domestic hot water is from solar tube arrays on roofs feeding indirect insulated cylinder with electric immersion heater. Electricity for lighting and boosting the latter is from onsite organic wastes anaerobic digester plant

Project Description

The Hele sustainaility Project:

All organic garden and kitchen wastes and sewage wastes are processed in this plant to produce methane to power continuously and gas engine driving electricity generator. This feeds all homes and site lighting with any excess sold back to the Grid. This AD plant also provides excellent semi-dry compost to go back into the gardens.

All homes are very highly insulated in all roofs, walls and floors with recycled insulations like warmwall. Inner walls are local sources timber frame facilitating this and speeding construction times. Outer leaf of walls mostly local bricks with some slate hanging. All the above systems enable a very low energy, but very attractive lifestyle for all residents of all ages including children, all of whom can enjoy the voluntary gardening and exercise.

Local Produce Shop

This shop will be situated in the car park at North-West corner of the site approached by a track leading from Station Road.

It is primarily to sell locally produced fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, and honey – as well as local farm produce like milk, yoghurts, cheeses, grains and beans. It’s possible local people might like to sell their home-made handicrafts here as well.

The shop will need a paid manager but will be run by volunteers from the new residency in our sit as well as from the Hele village. It will be a grant and charity subsidised community enterprise project.

Residents transport and CO2 sinks

Resident have one car space per dwelling only in the car park and seven spaces are reserved for visitors. A lock up trolley port in this car park enables goods to be taken up to homes (one trolley per home with a key). The separated pavions trackways discourage car use and car-sharing would be favoured. Local fifteen-minute daytime bus service links to Cullompton and Exeter.

The combination of intense horticulture (orchard and crops) and AD Plant compost return gives a very high level of CO2 sequestration, methane sequestration (conventional sewage treatment plants and compost heaps release the global warming gas methane).


This project enhances sustainability of Hele by:

• Providing low cost overhead housing for rural based people
• Avoiding healthy fresh local produce from the site
• Far greater carbon and methane sink than at present
• External energy and waste services reduced to a minimum

The development site is enclosed by urbanised outreach on all four sides:

1) M5 and railway
2) QuadWorld who have put considerable area of the land with tarmac chippings
3) B3181
4) Housing

Addendum Refs

i) For details of the small-scale anaerobic digestion biogas plant please see the designs on our website: www.eco-architectureandplanning.com
ii) AzeexG Soil Carbon and Organic Farming and Horticulture: Soil Association, 2003.
iii) Peter Smith: Potential for Carbon Sequestration in Soils – Global Change Biology 3.67.79 Rothampsted Research Lab 1997.
iv) Methane UK Environmental Change Institute Oxford University ch 2 www.eci.ox.ac.uk/research/energy/methaneuk.php.


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Urban Community Demonstration Educational
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