Architects’ home is a statement in sustainability

When it came to building a new home for themselves, two partners in the new practice Downs Merrifield Architects were determined to stamp sustainability throughout its specification.


Nic Downs and Carolyn Merrifield found the perfect plot for their home, close to the centre of Cardiff yet tucked quietly away in a leafy corner. Nic said: “Retaining the trees was very important to us; they played a big part in our choice of plot and our design. We wanted the house to reflect our environmental principles, with a strong use of timber and energy saving products. It was only natural for us to focus on the sustainability of the build because that is the essence of our new practice.”
Aiming to achieve high quality design and passive house status, Nic and Carolyn’s specification for the timber framed, timber and glass clad home includes very high levels of insulation, airtight construction, whole house ventilation, photovoltaics and large areas of south facing glazing to maximise solar heat gain.
Internally, the walls and ceilings were lined with fermacell, a gypsum fibreboard made from recycled materials. Instead of a wet plaster skim, the fermacell system features a skin coat known as Fine Surface Treatment. Paint can be applied directly onto this surface. On the recommendation of their supplier Eco Home Centre, Nic and Carolyn specified Earthborn Ecopro Matt Emulsion throughout the house.

Carolyn added: “We chose Ecopro emulsion because of its exceptional eco credentials, breathability, low odour and hard wearing finish. Every wall and ceiling that doesn’t have ceramic tiles or hardwood cladding has been painted with Earthborn Ecopro.” With its Ecolabel approval, Ecopro Matt Emulsion is an easy to use, environmentally sound alternative to conventional emulsions. While its unique formulation is totally oil, acrylic and VOC free, it offers high performance and excellent covering properties.
The result is a durable, anti-static, matt finish that is highly breathable. Being free from all harmful emissions, Ecopro Matt Emulsion also helps create a healthier, more comfortable living or working environment.

Newly decorated rooms can be brought back into use quickly because it does not give off any harmful emissions or odours: a point that will benefit Nic and Carolyn who are now planning additional paintwork with Ecopro Matt Emulsion. Nic explains: “Having lived with white paint throughout the house for several months, we are ready to start choosing colours to enhance certain walls. It will be great to move straight back into a room once it’s been painted, without worrying about any smells or emissions.”

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