We did it
On 7th December 2021 we successfully raised £21,592 ( + est. £1068.75 Gift Aid ) with 150 supporters in 42 days

So far we've trained 500+ people to build a straw-bale hall. Now we're breaking through the final stage: the heating & ventilation system.

by South London Straw Build in London, England, United Kingdom

New stretch target

£15,000 will cover 25% of our heating, cooling and ventilation costs;  £20,000 will cover a third.


 A note to Aviva Employees

We're so impressed that Aviva are including all their workforce in supporting communities around the UK - and we really hope that some of you will choose us to receive your allocation. 

If you read on you'll see 

  • how this project has already engaged thousands of people in our community and further afield; 
  • how we've trained, inspired and educated people regarding climate change; 
  • how we've built a new community centre ourselves, that actually rolls back climate change (ie is carbon-negative); 
  • and how this building is equipped to handle the effects of climate change in the future.

We REALLY hope you think it's worth reading on and considering further and we REALLY hope we can stretch our target to £20k or beyond because we need all the help  we can get to complete this amazing venture and get it up and running.

Thanks so much,

Richard

Giant Steps by Ordinary People

Our Amazing Straw-Bale HallA hidden gem in the battle against climate change is right here in South London:  Our large Community Hall, built mostly by volunteers, locking up tons of carbon for over 100 years, generating more energy than it will consume, and constructed in ways that can handle the shifting ground of climate extremes.

Now we are beginning our final year of construction which involves works by several specialist contractors (eg staircases, heating, alarms etc.) and the final fifth of our fund-raising effort.  To date, we have raised nearly £900,000 of our 1.2m overall budget, most of it from generous personal donation, and we're in no doubt of reaching our final target. 

In this Aviva campaign, we hope to raise at least £15,000 (25% of our heating, cooling & ventilation system cost).  It's only a part of the overall sum we need, but it will make all the difference to this climate-change-busting breakthrough.

So what makes this unique and innovative project so very special?

Effective Action Against Climate-Change


Girls from St Martin's School Building Club working on FoundationsIt's not always easy for ordinary people to feel they can really make a difference when it comes to climate change. All the real power seems to lie in the hands of politicians and big business.  Our project however,  enables ordinary people like you, to take matters into their own hands, and proves they can not only build their own high quality community hall, but can also make it "Carbon-Negative".

So far over 500 people have moved from being helpless onlookers to being trained and active participants, through our project here in Tulse Hill.  And that means thousands more beyond them - friends and families - have become educated and inspired by knowing how our choice of building materials can make a huge difference to the planet.  

By contributing to this campaign you are helping to bring this work of empowerment to completion.  But this work of education and inspiration will go on into the future, as people use the building for clubs, meetings, and social events, and as schoolchildren visit (we currently receive up to 1000 per year).

Building Beyond Carbon-ZeroCompressing Straw Bales in a WallEveryone's talking about "Carbon-Zero", but carbon-zero only stops matters getting worse. To actively combat Climate Change we have to be "Carbon-Negative" wherever possible. That means storing up CO2 rather than releasing it - and we can do that by choosing sustainably forested timber for our frames and straw-bales for our walls.  These materials actually store CO2 which would otherwise be released to the atmosphere.  And because our building has a projected lifespan of 100-200 years, this storage is very long-term!

Conventional building materials, concrete, steel, brick, and glass release huge quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere when they are manufactured. The cement used in render, mortar and concrete is one of the worst culprits, and globally, construction is one of the main contributors to global warming.  

Using compressed straw bales, which are both incredibly strong and extremely fire-resistant, reverses this effect.  The walls are then plastered using clay, dug from our own foundations.  On the outside, they are rendered with lime - a carbon-neutral product.  

It is estimated that a conventional building of our size would embody and emit 400+ tonnes CO2 during construction.  Our build is estimated to embody and emit 40t, but store 120t, making it 80 tonnes carbon-negative. In addition to this, our almost total avoidance of concrete has saved a further 28 tonnes, bringing the total to 108t CO2 saved.  This is hugely significant because enough straw is produced in the UK to build nearly a quarter of a million homes each year.  Imagine the impact if more commercial housebuilders followed suit!

By contributing to this campaign you are helping to bring this pioneering work to completion, and proving that construction choices can have a positive effect in reversing climate change.

Serious Generation

1634833010_solar_panels.jpgOur South Roof is covered as much as possible with Solar Panels.  It's a 20kW system, which is about the equivalent of 5 domestic solar installations. During the day, it will provide for all the needs of our Community Centre - and the church - as well as leaving some electricity to export to the National Grid.

Our heating and cooling (which your contribution will help fund) will be powered by a large Air Source Heat Pump - effectively generating energy from changes in air temperature.  It needs a certain amount of electricity to run, but most of this will come from our solar panels.  And at night, because of the amazing thermal insulation of straw, the internal temperature of the building will remain fairly constant with what it was during the day - so the system will barely be needed.

In use, it is estimated that a similar-sized conventional building would emit 25 tonnes CO2 in energy use each year.  Our building’s net use will be approximately 10 tonnes – a saving of 15 tonnes year on year.  Over a 60-year average building life span that equates to 900t CO2 saved - and our building is expected to last for up to 200 years!

When you contribute to this campaign, you are actively helping us buy the Air Source Heat Pump and associated heating, cooling and ventilation systems.  This will help us to generate more energy than we use, so we can contribute more to others' needs.

1634833769_05-fit_for_the_future.jpg

Tractor Tyre Foundations Being Built"It's an Insurance Nightmare!"  That's not a comment on straw-bale construction:  insurance companies simply need to get educated about things like the ultra-low fire-risk and proven durability.  It's a comment on changing climate patterns in the UK. Over 1million dwellings in London are said to be facing subsidence damage as a result of climate change in the next few years. London clay is a real problem because it expands hugely with large amounts of rainfall and then contracts again as it dries out.  This increasing ground movement is already a very significant issue across London and the South East, and not least in our locality of Tulse Hill.

However, straw-bales, timber, clay and lime plasters (unlike cement and gypsum) are inherently flexible materials.  Even our foundations, which have been tested to 1.5 times the demands of our building, are able to cope with ground movement, because they are huge tractor and car tyres, saved from landfill, jammed full with hundreds of thousands of tiny stones. 

Straw-bale buildings like ours have been designed for earthquake conditions in Pakistan.  They will cope far better than most buildings in London with the ground movement climate change is bringing about.   

When you contribute to this campaign, you are helping us demonstrate innovative construction techniques which could prove highly significant as we meet the variable geological circumstances of climate change.

Who Stands To Benefit?

1634849882_balustrade.jpgTulse Hill is a very mixed area with 14,000 people crammed together in less than 2km2. According to the government's Index of Multiple Deprivation, Tulse Hill is in the 10% most deprived areas in England. Local people need affordable facilities for clubs, classes, community services, work, and social events.  It's our privilege to offer a space built with such care and attention to detail.

Because our hall is 643m2 over two floors, with a good-sized kitchen, a lift, plus a basement , we can serve all sorts and sizes of events.  We estimate that with this variety, some 4,000 people each year will benefit from the facility - maybe more, depending on how bookings develop.

Add to this some 4,000 who have already been inspired, educated, and trained in responding to Climate Change through construction.  And then factor in the 30 or so individuals who are actively taking training they have received from us into their own green building projects, and  at least two churches considering larger community developments as a result... 

We can say with confidence that this ground-breaking project has not only potential to serve thousands of local people well into the future, but power to change the way thousands more think about construction in the light of climate change.  Your contribution will help us get there.

To Conclude...

If you want to meet some of us, here is our original promo film made in 2017:

You can see loads more on our YouTube Channel Playlist.

In 2017 we won the Green Church Green Futures Award "hands down".

In 2020 we were runners up in the Constructing Excellence Building Awards in the sustainability category.

In 2021 we were Gold Award Winners in the National Building & Construction Awards in both the sustainability and the community engagement categories.

Our workmanship is praised by Building Control, and our site practice by the HSE.

We have social clubs, seniors clubs, kids holiday clubs, parent & toddler clubs, debt relief & advice services, pilates and cookery classes, and scores of local residents all waiting for us to open.

During Covid we worked tirelessly every day, with greatly reduced volunteer numbers - we are longing to see this project through to completion.

We need your support to reach our target and help us complete this project.  If we reach our initial crowdfunding target, we will stretch it to cover more of the heating, cooling and ventilation installation.

Will you now join with us, putting your hand to the pump, and enable us to breakthrough our final phase?

Rewards

This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£30 or more

Your Message Inscribed

A message of your choice (up to 10 words) will be inscribed secretly in the building so that when it is eventually dismantled and recycled in 100-200 years' time, people will see what you thought those years before.

£20 or more

7 of 300 claimed

Original Postcard Print

While we were building the hall, we used straw bales as our Church Communion Table, to remind us of the task. Local Artist, Priscilla Watkins, painted an evocative view of this unique altar, ready with bread and wine. We have 300 to give away.

£30 or more

Your Name Inscribed

Your name will be inscribed secretly in the building as a donor, so that when it is eventually taken down in 100-200 years' time, and recycled, you will be discovered to have been one of the supporters.

£40 or more

Visit the Site

You can arrange to visit the site and see this unique building in the process of being built. Normally such a visit would be on a weekday for about 30-40 minutes.

£50 or more

1 of 50 claimed

Original Print Organic Tote Bag

We had these tote bags specially designed, printed and made. They are fair-trade, made with organic cotton, and the manufacture is powered by natural, renewable energy.

£100 or more

2 of 30 claimed

Invitation to the Grand Opening

You will be invited to the Grand Opening - when it happens!

£200 or more

0 of 5 claimed

A Day Working On Site

You and a friend can come and spend a day with us on site, helping with whatever we are up to. It could be carpentry or plastering... We have tools, and training will be given.

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