Steve's weblog

Highland expo  

Cat.: General stuff
16. August 2010

Last week I went up to Scotland for a week and I managed to get to the Highland housing expo (

The expo is set up as a showcase for green building in Scotland. It was going to happen last year but the credit crunch delayed everything and resulted in the houses being smaller than originally planned.

The expo is well worth going to – just to see where current thinking is on house builds. I was dissapointed with many of the buildings – the credit crunch meant that few houses had solar panels or water harvesting for example. But it was great to see some good ideas and things I would want to avoid. Before the visit I would have not thought much about open vs closed stairs for example.

I came away with the thought that when I get my eco house designed I will want to focus the architect on all the features I want. It seems even green architects do not always push the envelope!

I did not get around all the houses – there are 50 there!

4 Responses to “Highland expo”

  1. ddesigner:

    Hello Steve,
    I agree that the EXPO houses could have developed their sustainability credentials further. That said, the show was worth travelling to see, in my case, a very long day by bike, train and taxi from Edinburgh. I also failed to see every house, but I visited most, and attended the CPD seminar on using home-grown timber in construction, an information-packed event. I found the EXPO so interesting that I assembled my reaction as a few pages at
    It would have been great to see a straw-bale building included at the EXPO, but perhaps the technique was not considered appropriate for the general public. Where are the photos of your own straw bale building?

    comment at 02. September 2010
  2. Steve:

    Hi Douglas

    I agree that the Expo was worth visiting and it was interesting to see the different ideas in the flesh.

    Your write up on the event was very interesting and you managed to see more than I managed. I just managed a few hours out of my holiday to the Scottish Highlands.

    What were your thoughts from the timber masterclass. I am looking at building a house hopefully next year and I have not decided on local timber (lower travel) vs imported sustainable timber where you support overseas development. Pitch pine has a wonderful smell but horse chestnut looks great!!

    Will put up pictures of my barn this week as I have a few days off.

    comment at 07. September 2010
  3. ddesigner:

    Hi Steve,
    I sympathize with your desire to support overseas development, but unless you can be certain of the origin of imported timber, you may support the wrong kind of development. Is it possible to make a direct purchase of foreign timber from a particular village or woodland? Some ‘sustainably sourced’ timber involves destructive forestry practices and ignores local economic development issues. Is the factory-farming of trees in a quest for sustainable corporate profits the kind of development you want to support?
    Some points raised at the seminar: In the UK, little of the hardwood resource is being exploited for construction, with most being burned as fuel-wood. Only 4% of scots pine is being sold for construction. 95% of home-grown sitka spruce, when graded for construction use, typically achieves C16 strength grade, well suited to lightweight timber frame construction. Most is being used for pallets, packaging, or treated for fencing. For timber frame use, home-grown timber is about 12% cheaper than equivalent imports. Most softwood is coming from Sweden, Latvia, or Denmark.
    So there are plenty of opportunities for reducing timber miles, and creating UK jobs.

    comment at 09. September 2010
  4. Steve:

    In my thinking about timber framing options I had always thought that local timber would add 20% to the cost – I even seem to remember seeing that on the site of a saw mill promoting the use of Scottih timber! I must look into local supplies. I wonder why the forestry commission does not do more to promote the use of home grown timber?

    One place I have found is Coed Cymru wh are looking to promote the use of Welsh timber in a local context. Some great ideas about laminating small section timber that would otherwise end up as firewood to make windows.

    comment at 13. September 2010

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