THE term eco-home is becoming used more often in the days of the global climate emergency, but you would be forgiven for struggling to pin down exactly what it means.

The term is broad, but generally speaking describes any home designed with sustainability or environmental concerns in mind.

Put simply, it is a home which is designed to minimise its impact on the planet often by reducing carbon emissions through features such as solar panels and high levels of insulation.

Some eco-homes take things even further, however, using recycled items for the building materials and having plant covered living walls or roofs to increase biodiversity.

Colchester is no stranger to the concept and most recently developer 2008 Angora Bare Trusts unveiled plans to create eight such homes on land adjacent to Copford Village Hall, in Church Road, as part of a new estate called Grenestrete.

Each of the properties will be capable of delivering better than net zero carbon emissions, boasting solar rooftops and electric charging ports on every driveway.

The developer says the homes will be ready for a “future off-grid existence” and in the post-hydrocarbon era.

Another ground-breaking scheme has also been created at Cannock Mill in Colchester.


The co-housing project brought together dozens of strangers who collaboratively bought the land before setting about creating their own eco-village.

Properties were designed to Passivhaus standards, meaning they’re incredibly energy efficient, and there are shared facilities, including allotments and cars.

The community has also just received delivery of an electric bike trailer to further lower its carbon footprint.

It has taken the group more than decade to get to this point.

Jane Blackburn, who moved from London, said from the very outset the community wanted to do things differently.

She said: “We formed a company to complete the development and we are all members of the board so we collectively make decisions about how we are going to run it.

“Something we decided on early on was we wanted the homes to be low energy housing both so we could contribute towards being more sustainable and also because it produces comfortable homes and costs are very low.

“The levels of insulation in our properties are very, very high and we have triple glazing throughout.

“We also have an innovative system where incoming air goes through a heat exchanger and it is heated up.

“You get fresh air inside the home but it is being heated up using the outgoing air.

“I have never liked waste but this whole process has taught me so much about environmental principles.”

Whilst no doubt trailblazing, the complex Cannock Mill project was costly and was funded by the residents’ savings.


  • The eco home plan for Copford

But as we move into the post climate emergency age, eco-housing projects are expected to become more and more mainstream - perhaps eventually even the norm.

A good thing according to Jane.

She said: “Talking to all the residents here everybody says they would never want to live anywhere else except a Passivhaus now.

“I don’t really think there are any downsides to it.

“They are complicated to build because of the high standards they have to meet and our project took longer than first anticipated, but the end results are well worth it.

“It is difficult for young families to do something like this, but I hope that will change in the near future. I hope these ideals become more accessible.”