Scottish Farm House, Have You Any Wool?

One of the tenets of green building is to secure sources of materials as close as possible to the building site to cut down on transportation costs and waste. A farm in southwestern Scotland took this local sourcing philosophy to heart when it came to building a new farmhouse. Not only did they build much of the house from nearby materials, they also looked to the sheep in the barns for their own personal contributions.

The farm, called Three Glens, includes a five bedroom house, designed by Mark Waghorn Architects to incorporate local materials to help the building match the rugged landscape and to exceed the energy-efficiency standards required by the United Kingdom. One of the methods used is the harvesting of sheared sheep’s wool from the farm’s own animals for use as wall insulation.

Three Glens in Scotland is built mostly from materials found on the farm. Image via Mark Waghorn Architects.

Three Glens in Scotland is built mostly from materials found on the farm. Image via Mark Waghorn Architects.

The wool insulation is just one of a number of strategies used to keep the residents warm in the pervasive Scottish wind and damp. A heat-recovery ventilation system spreads warmth from the radiant floor heating throughout the house, which is also partially sunken into the ground to take advantage of thermal massing. Parts of the house are also heated by a “kachelofen,” or clay brick stove, which burns wood efficiently and helps radiate heat evenly.

The oak paneling comes from trees on site and the wall insulation comes from the farm's own sheep's wool. Image via Mark Waghorn Architects.

The oak paneling comes from trees on site and the wall insulation comes from the farm’s own sheep’s wool. Image via Mark Waghorn Architects.

On the passive side, one small room is encased in glass for solar drying of laundry, which saves electricity usage. Extensive use of triple-paned glass also provides ample daylight to further reduce a reliance on the local power grids. A small wind turbine on the grounds provides more than enough power to run the appliances and energy-efficient lights, due to the many blustery days in the region, so excess electricity is sold back to the grid.

The walls come from locally found stone and the rooms are heated by a wood-fired kachelofen stove. Image via Mark Waghorn Architects.

The walls come from locally found stone and the rooms are heated by a wood-fired kachelofen stove. Image via Mark Waghorn Architects.

Most of the stone walls on the interior and exterior of the house were gathered from the surroundings hills and were built to resemble the ancient, rough-hewn stone fences that mark the property. The oak panels that make up the cladding were also cut from trees that were harvested on the farm site. The sloping roof is also covered with native turf to help absorb stormwater and provide extra insulation.

 

Randy Woods is a Seattle-based writer and editor with 20+ years of experience in the business publishing world. A former managing editor of Seattle Business, iSixSigma, Claims and Waste Age magazines, he has covered topics that include newspaper publishing, entrepreneurism, green businesses, insurance, environmental protection and garbage hauling (yes, really). He also contributes to the Career Center Blog for The Seattle Times and edits a photography magazine called PhotoMedia. When not working, he likes to hide out in Seattle movie theaters and attend film festivals—even on sunny days.

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