The House that Kevin Built 2012 The Brighton Waste House


Eco Open Houses 2015

The Waste House is open as part of the Eco Open House weekends Saturday and Sunday 17th – 18th and 24th – 25th October 1pm- 5pm.

This year Eco Open Houses takes place in Brighton & Hove over the two weekends.

The printed brochure, with maps and house details is available free at selected sites around Brighton and Hove, or as a downloadable pdf, found on their website.

What is Eco Open Houses?

Whether you are a home owner or tenant wanting to find out what you can do in your home to save money and feel healthier and warmer, a builder looking for better ways to build for your clients or just simply curious, come and be inspired by visiting an eco-home near you!

Some Eco Open Houses are old houses that have been retrofitted and improved, some have just been built. What they feature in common is being cheaper to run and requiring less mains energy to keep them warm.

It doesn't necessarily take expensive renovation to cut bills: behaviour changes and small alterations can make a big difference. Discover practical steps to reduce energy use, water use and carbon emissions in our own homes from the experiences of Eco Open Householders. Funding options to help you renovate your home are described in Ways to pay.

Downing Street award for recycling "goddess"

23 February 2015

Cat Fletcher, the “resource goddess” behind the University of Brighton’s Waste House, today was named by the Prime Minister as one of Britain’s top volunteers.

Cat, university volunteer, Reuse Manager for Brighton and Hove City Council and co-founder of FREEGLE, the UK’s largest online reuse network, received the daily ‘Points of Light’ award which recognises outstanding individual volunteers, “people who are making a change in their community”.

The award was developed in partnership with the Points of Light programme in America, established by President George H W Bush, and supported by President Barack Obama.

Downing Street said: “Cat is one of the founders of Freegle,a free sharing network that allows people to reuse unwanted goods. Launched in 2009, it now has more than 1.9 million members in over 400 community groups across the UK. Cat now runs Freegle Brighton and has saved thousands of tonnes of useful but unwanted goods from landfill, donating them to charities, social enterprises and good causes in her area.”

Cat, whose CV is headed “Resource Goddess”, said she was thrilled with the award: “I’m really pleased but a lot of other people can take a bow today. FREEGLE’s and the university Waste House successes wouldn’t have been possible without an army of helpers and I’d like to think this award reflects just as much on their hard work and dedication.” The Waste House, in the grounds of the university’s campus at the College of Arts and Humanities in Grand Parade, Brighton, is Britain’s first house made almost entirely of rubbish including 20,000 toothbrushes, two tonnes of denim jeans, 4,000 DVD cases, 2,000 floppy discs, 2,000 used carpet tiles, construction waste and surplus material.

The House, open to the public, is a ‘live' ongoing research project and permanent new design workshop focused on enabling open discussion and understanding of sustainable development.

Professor Julian Crampton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Brighton, said: “This award is richly deserved and we offer Cat our warmest congratulations.

“Cat has been a main driving force behind sourcing thrown-away and surplus materials for the Waste House project. In doing so, Cat has demonstrated how so-called rubbish can be put to good use. The House mirrors work going on throughout the university with its commitment to cutting energy consumption and emissions, increasing recycling and ensuring that sustainable development and procurement are embedded in all our practices.”

Professor Anne Boddington, Dean of the university’s College of Arts & Humanities, said: “We are delighted that Cat’s expertise and significant contribution to sustainability, waste management and to working with and within communities is being recognised by this prestigious award. Cat has helped propel the university’s Waste House onto the world stage and now students, politicians, the housing industry, and indeed countries around the globe, are learning from the project as a way of helping tackle climate change.”

Duncan Baker-Brown: "This latest award acknowledges Cat's huge energy, enthusiasm and commitment to working with our local community groups, schools and colleges, as well as with our own students here at the University of Brighton. Cat's knowledge around issues of re-using waste material is, in my opinion, unmatched. Her knowledge was invaluable in helping the university deliver the Brighton Waste House, Europe's first permanent public building made of material others had discarded.

Key Speaker at Public Policy Exchange

4 December 2014 

Duncan Baker-Brown will be the key speaker at the Unlocking Value from Household Waste: Creating Resources and Wealth form Reused Materials at the Public Policy Exchange. 

The event will take place on 3 March 2015 at Broadwasy House, Westminster. 

Public Policy Exchange, holds regular interactive seminars which provide an invaluable interface for policy discussion, debate and networking.

These special events offer local practitioners, civil servants and other stakeholders not only an insight into current policy thinking, but also the opportunity to feed into future policy development across all areas of public policy.

Their speakers are unrivalled in calibre, ranging from Government Ministers and Senior Whitehall Officials to leading Local Authority figures and Voluntary Sector representatives. 

The Unlocking Value from Household Waste symposium will:

  • Discuss the recommendations highlighted in the LGA’s ‘Routes to reuse: maximising value from reused materials’ report
  • Consider the role of councils, reuse partners and national Government in creating an environment where reuse organisations have better access to a sufficient supply of products for reuse
  • Assess the economic, social, environmental and other benefits for taxpayers, consumers, companies and the third sector from an expanded reuse market

First class award for Waste House

2 December 2014

Brighton Waste House

The University of Brighton’s Waste House has scooped another top award.

People Environment & Achievement (PEA) presented its ‘Best Echo Project Working with Schools’ award to the project and its architect, lecturer Duncan Baker-Brown.

School children helped fill cavity walls with thrown away insulation materials, and schools and colleges regularly visit what is Britain’s first house made almost entirely of rubbish, at the university’s Grand Parade campus.

Another award went to Cat Fletcher, founder of FREEGLE, the UK’s biggest online reuse network, who sourced much of the Waste House materials. She collected the Campaigner Hero award.

The PEA awards recognise “inspirational people who making a difference to the green agenda”. They were created by ethical business and lifestyle consultant Jarvis Smith in conjunction with the green magazine PQ which he founded.

The project has now won five awards: October 2013 – Brighton Argus Achievement Awards Green Project of the Year; July 2014 – 2degrees Sustainability Champions Waste & Resource Management Project of the Year, and 2degrees Sustainability Champions Building of the Year; and October 2104 – Brighton Argus Community Stars Awards Green Project of the Year.

The Waste House has also been Highly Commended for The Blueprint Awards’ Best Sustainable Project, a worldwide award, and it was a finalist for The Climate Week Awards Best Education Project in March 2014.

Duncan Baker-Brown said: “This is an amazing achievement and reflects a tremendous amount of hard work and commitment by many people, university staff and volunteers, students, The Mears Group and many contributing companies and organisations.”

2degrees winners

10 June 2014

winners of the 2degrees awards for Waste & Resource Management and Building or Property Project

The Bighton Waste House won two awards at the 2degrees Champions Awards 2014, for Waste & Resource Management and Building or Property Project.

Find out more:

Waste & Resource Management

Building or Property Project

 2degree awards

A taste of Widening Participation at the Waste House

The Waste HOUSE 2014, a work of art

18 March 2014

Salt Field - by Phillip Hall-Patch 


In the lead up to the Brighton Festival the Waste House will be handed over to HOUSE 2014 artist and architect, Phillip Hall-Patch, to create an installation titled Salt Field.

Hall-Patch, who investigates the tensions between transience and stability through ephemeral and time-based works, is producing an installation that will look at the global historic and economic role of salt. The work will comprise of a ‘field’ of salt blocks drip-fed by water that will slowly dissolves, with the displaced mineral reforming as new crystalline growths.

Hall-Patch’s work is in response to HOUSE 2014’s lead artist, Yinka Shonibare MBE, themes of immigration, migration and refuge, in his work The British Library, that will be presented in the dramatic Edwardian surroundings of the former Reference Library in Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.

The other artists selected to produce work for HOUSE 2014, are Leah Gordon, Tobias Revell and Ester Svensson & Rosanna Martin.

You can see Phillip Hall-Patch’s Salt Field at the Brighton Waste House during the Brighton Festival, 3–25 May.

HOUSE 2014 is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

HOUSE 2014 Brighton Festval 

Climate Week

5 March 2014

Climate week award invite 

The Waste House project was one of four finalists in the best education or campaign category of the 2014 Climate Week Awards.

The annual awards showcase for outstanding initiatives from around the UK that are working towards a more sustainable future. The Waste House was represented at the awards ceremony held at Ecobuild in London on 4 March by Michael Buckman (City College), David Pendegrass (Mears), Jason Reeves (apprentice), Louise Fisher (architecture student) and Cat Fletcher (Freegle/University of Brighton). Greg Barker (MP for Energy and Climate Change) congratulated all the finalists on their exemplary work.

Countdown to completion

4 March 2014

The last two months have seen the Waste House busier than ever as we progress towards completion at the end of April. The big challenge has been holding onto the original ethos of this project: ‘there is no such thing as waste, just stuff in the wrong place!” We have had to consider very carefully how to wire and plumb the building to twenty-first century standards of safety and energy efficiency.

We consequently accepted that it was essential to install brand new electrical wiring and plumbing; it is just not possible to use second-hand wiring for a public building, and second-hand waste pipes are a health hazard nobody should risk.

2nd hand new kitchen  

So the last few months have relied on the generosity of a number of companies who have donated their material for nothing and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the following for their invaluable support: 

Jason Barns of City Electrical Factors (Brighton East Branch) for supplying all “first fix” wiring, socket & switch plates.

Andrew Cobham of CNC Ltd who supplied all CAT 6 communication systems.

Colin Chadwick of Sovereign Alarms who supplied the fire alarm system.

Keith Goodman of AM Fire & Security who supplied the Access & Security System, and finally

Ian Mitchel & Sara MacLean of Vent-Axia Group who supplied the Mechanical Ventilation & Heat Recovery unit (second-hand - YES!) that will ensure our all-electric house runs on the minimum of mains power.

Now that’s quite a list for two months work, but I’m not finished yet. All the above were installed to a greater extent by Electrical Tutor Simon Coode of City College Brighton and Hove with his electrician students. So very well done to them. We also relied heavily on Del Wynn (University of Brighton Systems Manager) to help organise first fix comms on site.

Dr. Kenneth Ip and his colleague from the Faculty of Science & Engineering have installed their wireless monitors into the walls of the Waste House so that they can monitor whether a wall is performing properly or not. There will be more about this.

Schools to visit the Waste House - Central Sussex College, Lewes New School 

The Waste House has continued to welcome visits from schools from the surrounding region including Central Sussex College, Lewes New School, Annan Farm and others.

In December the construction site inspired undergraduate Architecture students to design and make installations from ‘waste’ material generated by the Waste House.

I also just wanted to say a huge thank you to the core staff from Mears who turn up on site every day and get on with all the work that is required to make sure the Waste House is ready for City College plumbers and electricians and of course ready to hand over. So thank you to David Pendegrass, Jason, Fionn and Sam, and congratulations to Ty who has just been accepted into City College to complete a CAA Diploma Level 1.

And finally thank you to FREEGLE’s Cat Fletcher who has been busy securing second-hand fittings & material for us. More of that in the next bulletin.

In the fianl stages, the Waste House


Standing In

28 November 2013

6 months on being on site, Project leader, Duncan Baker-Brown, takes us around the Waste House highligting what it has been made out of.

Film produced by Kurt Rademeyer

The story of the Apprentice

21 November 2013

This update focuses on Mears Group Carpentry Apprentice Jason Reeves, as he clocks up 400 hours working on the Waste House site. He started the project when he was a voluenteer from Brighton and Hove City college.

Film produced by Kurt Rademeyer

1 November Update

1 November 2013

We have been super busy at the Waste House over the last month or so and the building is now watertight and topped out. This has only been possible because of the continued hard work of our site agent David Pendegrass of Mears, together with City College students & tutors, Mears apprentices and some dedicated volunteers including 15 year old Tye.

City College students 

After a steady drible of old toothbrushes over the last four months or so FREEGLE's Cat Fletcher hit on a huge source via Gatwick Airport. Cat discovered that toothbrushes are given away to every business class & first class passenger flying from Gatwick and all other airports. Therefore there are millions of toothbrushes collected and thrown away after only one use. We took delivery of just over 20,000 of them in one hit and filled 1.5 of our wall cassettes just like that! The toothbrushes were kindly collected, diverted from the waste stream and delivered to us by MNH Sustainable Cabin Services, SPECIALIST SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS FOR THE TRAVEL SECTOR. Georgina Jackson (account manager) is the person who made this happen at MNH Sustainable Cabin Services.

Gatwick Airport Toothbrushes 

Cat also found a steady supply of old vinyl banners that tend to be date sensitive and are therefore only used once. They could be recycled if the brass eyelets that are used to tie them to street lights during arts festivals (etc) were removed. They aren't so the banners go to landfill. Cat rescued 1000 of them and we have been able to use them as internal vapour control layers. They are very jolly as you can see. but unfortunately they won't be seen as they will be buries behind the internal wall finishes. We also used them as damp proof courses (dpc's to those in the know) around our lovely Rationel windows. The banners have been kindly collected, diverted from the waste stream and delivered to us by Bay Media. Bruce Bignell is the account manager at Bay who has championed this partnership.

old vinyl banners as internal vapour control layers 

Lots of companies have been supplying The Waste House with their innovative green products as well. So the Waste House team would like to thank the following companies for their generous support:

Thank you to AAC Waterproofing ltd supplied and installed their amazing Prelasti rubber membrane roof finish made from up to 40% waste rubber and other material from car tyres. Mears Apprentices & City College carpentry students worked very hard in difficult weather conditions to make sure the ply roof decking was ready for the roofers.

AAC Waterproofing ltd - Prelasti rubber membrane 

Thank you to The Brighton & Hove Wood Recycling Project who continue to supply us with second hand timber on the occasions our FREEGLE suppliers run dry.

Thank you to Phil Barnard of Chandlers Sustainable Building Solutions for supplying us with surplus Porotherm Clay Blocks. We have installed some of them in the exposed vaulted ceiling on the first floor. The rest form one of the internal walls downstairs. Chandlers kindly facilitated a demonstration workshop for City College bricklayers who then installed these unusual thin jointed blocks for us.

Thank you to Dupont Building Innovations for supplying us with their Tyvek® Vapour Control & Building Membranes for the external walls of the Waste House. These are highly specialist membranes that are commonly used in low energy timber frame construction projects to control the flow of condensation through the fabric of the the building.

Tyvec Vapour Control & Building Membranes for the external walls 

Thank you to Ejot UK ltd who kindly supplied us with specialists long screw fixings for securing our external wall & roof insulation. They are also supplying us with the fixing system for the Photovoltaic Solar panels that will be arriving on site in the next couple of weeks.

Thank you to Kingspan UK who very generously supplied us with surplus and slightly damaged external wall and roof insulation that would normally be sold off cheaply to farmers to insulate their barns or reprocessed back at Kingspan factories.

surplus and slightly damaged external wall and roof insulation 

..... and last but definitely not least thank you to The Velux Company Ltd  who supplied us with three as yet not on the market amazing triple glazed INTEGRA roof lights whIch give 20% more natural light than previous roof lights of the same size and also come with external and internal automatic blinds.

 triple glazed INTEGRA roof lights 

Waste House 1 November 2013

Now that is quite a list. Next the electrics, plumbing and whole house ventilation and heat recovery!! Phew


Preview Clip 5 - Summer Camp

2 September 2013

“It’s the first time for me using some of this equipment.”

Mears apprentices, Max Lucas and Reece Baker, talk about their experiences so far of working on the Brighton Waste House, and how the project is already benefiting their future in the construction industry.

Film produced by Kurt Rademeyer

Summer Update

7 August 2013

Mears apprentices working on the roof

Due to the huge amount of work carried out by our amazing Summer School Volunteer Camp the Waste House team are taking a well earned break until 12 August.

The Summer Camp has had over 50 volunteers working on site since the end of June, comprising 21 students from City College Brighton and Hove, 26 from the Faculty of Art and three members of the public. So a huge 'thank you' is due to all who have helped and are keeping the works going while the academic institutions are closed for the summer. I would also like to thank David Pendegrass & Mr.Dee, both from Mears, for coordinating this, and congratulate the five City College Carpentry students who have started their Mears Apprenticeship Programme while working on the Waste House.

City College Brighton and Hove Students 

On 17 July we welcomed 70 pupils from St. Andrews C&E School to site. They arrived armed with toothbrushes to contribute to the insulation for one of the wall 'cassettes'. They were joined by Dr. Caroline Lucas MP and a film crew from ITV. You can see their report, and others, in our Press Coverage page here.

On 26 July we received damaged and returned external wall and roof insulation from Kingspan. This material is 'proper' insulation used in constructing well insulated twenty-first century buildings. Kingspan collect the damaged and surplus material from building sites and resell it to farmers for insulating cowsheds or it is sold for packaging. We will use it to provide external wall and roof insulation in addition to the tooth brushes, video tapes etc already installed. It will give us the correct levels of insulation to pass Building Regulations Approval. The non-conventional insulation materials provide additional insulation beyond this benchmark.

Finally, our Chief Scavenger Cat Fletcher of Freegle has won another award. She recently returned from San Francisco, where together with James Togut, won a Global Award for social innovation in the Living Labs / Cities Pilot the Future competition. The LLGA is an opportunity for people from around the world to create solutions for real life problems presented by over 20 cities. The cities then facilitate the winning urban and social innovators to pilot their solutions. James and Cat’s winning solution ‘CityMakers' is an online platform and street level programme that accelerates resourcefulness by connecting and measuring untapped skills, goods, events, people and initiatives in any community. You can watch a video about it here. So well done Cat.

Film produced by Kurt Rademeyer

Don't throw your old toothbrush away

18 July 2013

Group of school children with old toothbrushes

Schoolchildren brought along their old toothbrushes to help build Britain's first house made almost entirely from thrown-away waste.

Pupils from St Andrew’s CE Primary School in Hove were joined by Brighton MP Caroline Lucas as they slotted brushes into wall cavities to help with insulation in the house which is under construction at the University of Brighton’s Faculty of Arts campus in Grand Parade, Brighton.

The project is being backed by TV designer and presenter Kevin McCloud who, with University of Brighton lecturer and architect Duncan Baker-Brown, worked on a similar build in London for a TV programme in 2008.

With support from Brighton and Hove City Council, City College, the Mears Group, a host of companies and the internet-based reuse organisation Freegle, Mr Baker-Brown is using thrown-away bricks, ply sheets, wood and “rubbish” including old plastic razors, denim jeans, DVD’s and video cassettes to show how low-carbon homes can be built cheaply and quickly.

Students, apprentices, local builders and school children have been involved with the making of the structure, with the ambition to train students and apprentices around emerging green industries.

Mr Baker-Brown said: “The research will inform developments in the construction industry and will help in the design of houses of the future. The building will have its own street entrance – putting the house at the heart of the community.

“Reusing waste saves money for big business as well as small, and it relieves pressure on our planet. There really is no such thing as waste or surplus material – it is just stuff in the wrong place.”

David Pendegrass, Project Manager with Mears, said: “We’ll be testing the toothbrushes and other thrown away items for their insulation qualities. We’re also testing chalk – a lorry-load was heading for a landfill site but we diverted it here, mixed it with water, compacted it and, so far, it has proved a great insulating material.”

Caroline Lucas said: “So many people are involved and helping with the project – it is wonderful to see. And it shows there are lessons for us all about recycling. So much gets thrown away that can be re-used.”

Cat Fletcher who runs Freegle which promotes keeping usable items out of landfill, has been sourcing recycling material, including toothbrushes. She said: “Every toothbrush made still exists in landfill sites, apart from those burnt in incinerators. But we are collecting them locally to use in the House project. Most plastics are unrecyclable because the UK does not have local infrastructure or systems in place to collect and separate all the different types of plastic that stuff is made from.

“We want people to bring old toothbrushes to the site and also old bicycle tyre inner tubes.”

Toothbrushes and bicycle inner tubes can be dropped off to The Waste House building site on the corner of Grand Parade Mews and William Street Brighton BN2 2RU (Monday to Friday 9am -3pm) or they can be put through the gate anytime.

There are two other collection sites: Emmaus Brighton, Drove Rd, Portslade, BN41 2PA (Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm) and The Green Centre, 39 Manor Hill, Whitehawk, Brighton, BN2 5EL, in boxes outside at anytime.

Wanted: Your old toothbrushes and bicycle inner tubes!

The Waste House team need your old toothbrushes and bicycle inner tubes to use in the construction of the Waste House. You can donate them at any of the three convenient drop off points

Brighton Waste House: Corner of Grand Parade Mews & William Street, Brighton BN2 2RU.  Monday to Friday  9-3 or pop through gate 24/7

Emmaus Brighton: The Drove, Portslade,BN41 2PATuesday to Saturday 10-5

The Green Centre: 39 Manor Hill, Whitehawk 24/7 collection boxes outside

For more info contact Cat Fletcher on 07962 449573 or email

Cladding Competition

The Waste House Team have launched a competition for any member of the public or university -  Tweet @WasteHouse your ideas for waste or surplus material that we could use to clad the external walls of the Waste House

Summer Camp

June 12th was probably the busiest day on site so far ... students from City College were installing the final first floor beams made from waste ply and timber. We also have Rowland Keeble of Rammed Earth Consulting CIC for three days. He is helping architecture & carpentry volunteer students (together with very able ground works apprentices from Mears) how to construct the rammed chalk wall in the stair well of the Waste House. Well done to all volunteers. We had about 40 students working in shifts all day. Towards the end of the day we welcomed year 12 pupils from Brighton College School's Green Group. They came to see the Waste House and also to catch the last moments of the Graduation Show. 

And finally, we unveiled our stunning Waste House hoarding to the public last week. Thank you to Studio Cuthbert for the graphic design and Signs Express Crawley(‎) for the printed artwork. 

Work on site

Duncan Baker-Brown reports on progress with the roof joists and chalk

On Thursday 16th May I met with James Chalmers ( a local building contractor with whom I have constructed many low carbon developments. James had large joists in his yard, salvaged from a house demolished in Brighton last year, which he has kindly donated and will be used to construct the Waste House roof trusses. 

While I was loading the timber with James onto his trailer I casually asked him if he had ten tonnes of chalk anywhere. Well, by coincidence he did! He had an active building site from which chalk was being removed and sent to landfill the very next day ... perfect for our rammed chalk wall. We have been looking all over Sussex for two months, so this was a result. Within twenty-two hours of that casual chat the chalk arrived at the Waste House site. Thank you to James Chalmers for the chalk and timber and thank you to David Pendegrass of Mears, our site agent, for making the site ready for this delivery at hardly any notice. 

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