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Case Study - Autonomous House

one of the most energy efficient homes in the UK

cropthorne zero carbon house 5Clay Roof Tiles:
Dreadnought Brown Antique Smoothfaced plain tiles,  and half round ridges

Neill Lewis

Self Builder:
Mike Coe



crowthorne eco house 2Mike Coe, a self builder from Worcestershire, set out to build himself one of the most energy efficient buildings in the UK.  The driving force for Mikes’ design was the idea that the house should have minimal impact on the environment and should, as far as possible, obtain everything it needs from the land around it. Hence the house has neither mains drainage nor mains water; it is instead equipped with a rainwater harvesting system and composting toilets. 




crowthorne eco house 3As with almost all self build projects, every decision was heavily researched  and the roofing tiles were no exception. Mike wanted to build a house that would be beautiful as well as ultra energy efficient and the roof, being the most prominent feature of the house from the road, was to play a major part of the aesthetics.





crowthorne eco houseMike decided that plain clay tiles would best satisfy both the planners as well as his own aesthetic objectives  and he found that Dreadnought provided the widest range of natural colours to choose from.  Their natural burnt clay colours are created through expert careful control of the kiln atmosphere, and he felt this natural colour would blend in best with the local vernacular and mellow gracefully with age.  Dreadnought’s  Brown Antique colour is a mixture of rich reds, browns and blue in a multi-coloured tiles which give character to the roof through texture and variation in colour that is not contrived.  Mike chose a smooth finish to provide the best surface for water harvesting as he didn’t want to promote the growth of moss and lichens on the tiles. 

Dreadnought Tiles reputation for quality and longevity were key factors.  Mike sought to minimise the embodied energy in the building and he therefore considered the benefits of using reclaimed tiles.  However he found that as the amount of embodied energy needs to be offset against the lifetime of the product, new Dreadnought tiles that could last over 100 years would provide the greenest solution.  Mike also liked Dreadnought’s environmental policy.  They have their quarry a couple of miles from their factory, on the same site where they have been manufacturing almost continuously since 1805.  This also happened to be the closest tile manufacturer to Mike’s plot.


crowthorne eco house 4

Mike applied the same meticulous research and careful planning to all the different areas of this project and sought to include the use of renewable energy and long life products wherever possible.  The result is a beautiful house that is effectively carbon negative and will last for generations to come. “Roof tiles are necessarily a high carbon product, but Dreadnought's tiles have an exceptionally long life, which offsets the embodied energy. Being a local company, and having their own quarry, reduced transport emissions. Plus the tiles make a significant contribution to the attractiveness of the completed house,” says Mike Coe.  To find out more about Mike’s ultra low energy eco-build project at http://www.cropthornehouse.co.uk/

Dreadnought Tiles is a company with an impeccable pedigree and it was a pleasure to see them continuing to thrive and innovate. Black Country craftmanship and quality at its best.” Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands

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