It's not unusual to see innovation happening in Devon and Cornwall; there seems to be an inclination down here for people to "think out of the box", to be more individualistic. These are characteristics I'm passionate about and one of the many reasons I sing the praises of my two counties.
So I was really pleased to hear last week that the builder judged to be this year's constructor of the most energy efficient building at the Master Builder of the Year Awards in London comes from my patch. He is Robert Gulley from Totnes in South Devon. He was approached by Mr and Mrs Carfrae who wanted a house built at Totnes that had to be as sustainable as possible but with the proviso that it was within the same budget as a similarly sized conventional home. Now it turns out that Mr Carfrae is studying for a PhD in straw bale construction and suggested that they be incorporated in the construction. This was something new in Mr Gulley's long career as a builder but he went along with the idea and also used lime plaster and incorporated loose sheep's wool for the insulation.
For the main structure of the house a traditionally jointed frame in locally sourced Douglas Fir was used. Floorboards came from an old chapel, good recycling stuff.
This is all absolutely fascinating and just shows what can be achieved by trying things that are not in the mainstream at the moment. Congratulations to all concerned.