Tips for sustainable small builds

May 21, 2021

Lockdown has seen many changes to the way we live, not least to the way we work. And for many, working from home will continue as part of the new normal.

Working from home has its advantages: some find it brings a better work life balance and less commuting can mean money – and carbon – saved. In order to help define work and home space, there has been a growing trend in home conversions; extensions and garden offices.

Even a small home office project has the opportunity to incorporate sustainable features. Here are some top tips and resources to make that garden room greener or that conversion climate-conscious:

  • Check out the Council’s planning policy advice for incorporating energy and water efficiency measures in residential properties. See CS22: Sustainable Construction in the Council’s Core Strategy here.
  • Go on…go greener…encourage your builder to go beyond the minimum Building Regulations standards. The Council’s Climate Change Supplementary Planning Guidance lets you know how you can incorporate features to further reduce energy costs, improve comfort and act sustainably.
  • While not a requirement for minor extensions, the Climate Neutral Checklist might inspire some extra steps towards climate-neutral development. It includes all sorts of useful pointers like considering layout to maximise passive solar gain; or using locally sourced building materials.
  • This article by the Energy Saving Trust has some great advice for home energy improvements with net zero in mind. It covers everything from topping up loft insulation to incorporating solar panels.
  • If you live in a listed building, do take care with any modifications. In this article, Historic England advises on what to consider when altering older buildings.
  • A few small modifications could also mean your new garden room or office becomes a haven for garden wildlife. Maybe you could add a bird box, pollinating planters, or a green roof to boost biodiversity. RHS Wisley has got some great advice here.

Here are a couple of examples of how local residents are going green with their home offices:

Knowing that home-working would continue, Woking resident Mrs Wilson converted her garden shed into a sunny outside office. To keep it snug, the walls, floor and roof were insulated and new double-glazed windows keep out draughts (see photo inset above).

Ross Clode, a local Woking based builder embarked on his own sustainable home office build (pictured below). He has incorporated all sorts of eco features such as concrete-free footings, locally sourced timber and sustainable cork based flooring as well as using local small suppliers and contractors wherever possible. 

Got your own eco-build on the go? Planet Woking would love to hear about it! Drop us a line at


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