STSD - Somerset Trust for Sustainable Development STSD - Somerset Trust for Sustainable Development d


The Somerset Trust for Sustainable Development (STSD) has been established to take a leading role in promoting and undertaking sustainable housing and other sustainable building developments in Somerset. Features of the Trust:

  • an independent not-for-profit organisation;
  • has the flexibility to operate within public, private and voluntary sectors, developing partnerships as necessary.

With over 150 Development Trusts established in the UK, STSD will both learn from and contribute to a growing body of experience and expertise through the Development Trusts Association and other appropriate networks. Somerset Trust For Sustainable Development: Mission The Somerset Trust for Sustainable Development aims to make sustainable design and building practices normal rather than exceptional throughout Somerset by the year 2010.

The Context

  • Growing consensus that the conventional forms of land development and construction are unsustainable in terms of a) the demands they make on finite resources of energy and materials and b) their effect on social cohesion.
  • Advances in building systems and technology are outpacing the slow take-up of new materials and techniques in a construction industry which the DETR's Egan Report, Rethinking Construction, identifies as one of the most conservative of all manufacturing industries. The gap between current "normal practice" and "best practice" is widening.
  • The Government is responding to this situation in a number of ways aimed at supporting new approaches to sustainable construction. However, there is a significant imbalance in construction research and in innovative schemes; the imbalance favours high-tech, big business solutions, with little support for the real opportunities that simpler, local, lower cost and more traditional approaches offer.
  • There is virtually no connection between the development of ecologically sound practices at national and international levels and the day-to-day practice of property developers - with all their practical constraints.

The Lighthouse, Keinton Mandeville: large section UK grown Douglas Fir frame, with Warmcell insulation breathing wall, underfloor heating, room-in-the-roof, part timber clad, use of natural light.

The Response

  • The Somerset Trust for Sustainable Development has been formed (in early 2000) as a practical, local response to this situation. It's flexibility allows it to engage with a full spectrum of property development activity in the county and it is strongly supported by both Somerset County Council and South Somerset District Council through the South Somerset Partnership.
  • The Trust's mission is to promote the development of sustainable practices in housing and other forms of development in Somerset and beyond, independently and in association with public and private sector organisations. It will do this through a broad range of educational, advisory and development activities.

South Petherton Self Build: 11 Segal style houses self-built by Camelot Housing Co-op, timber frame, & well insulated

The Actions

  • The Trust will gather and disseminate information, and implement practical local action based on ecologically sustainable improvements to the engineering and design of buildings, as well as building systems and materials. The STSD's principal role is to make these developments practically available to all the developers, architects, specifiers and builders in Somerset - and most importantly to widen the choice, quality and benefits offered to the people that live and work in those buildings.

House at Lower Coxbridge: timber frame with Masonite I-Beam, Warmcell insulation, solar panel, grey-water treatment and rainwater collection, some recycled timber, re-used stone from cottage previously on site, part-timber clad.

The Objectives for the Trust for 2000-2001 are the practical first steps to achieve its Aims:

  • Undertaking and being partners in a range of exemplar innovative Sustainable Housing projects;
  • Establishing an Internet based data-base of best practise examples of sustainable housing and construction;
  • Helping Councils and other organisations to establish partnership-based Sustainable Housing Strategies;
  • Promoting the creative use of The Somerset Sustainable Housing Study and other relevant publications;
  • Establishing a local Sustainable Housing Network, for individuals, community organisations and businesses.
  • Organising a programme of Educational Events and Training Seminars as part of a wider Communication and Awareness Raising strategy;
  • Establishing a Sustainable Housing Resources Centres, to provide information and advice, and undertaking a feasibility study for a Sustainable Building Skills Centre for relevant businesses and training;
  • The overall aim is that architects, house builders and developers at all levels will regard the Trust as a source of innovation and a primary source of useful information; a benchmarking organisation for sustainable construction.
  • Joint programmes of training and research will be undertaken where appropriate with training and further education establishments in Somerset, the West Country and the South West.

The Development Projects

  • The Trust's own programme of development projects will complement its information dissemination, awareness raising and education activities. This will involve the local community in the design process and demonstrate the potential of the new, ecological approach to building in the most effective way. There is no more potent means of education than exemplar schemes which demonstrate the many possibilities and benefits of this new and wiser approach to buildings and development.
  • The majority of these schemes will show a 'profit', for two purposes - both to demonstrate that they are commercially viable, and to produce income to help finance the STSD's activities. The Trust will play a variety of roles in such schemes, from leading to supporting to initiating to advisory. The marketing of the completed schemes will be used to publicise the new approaches to a public audience.

The Business Associations and Partnerships

  • Throughout its work the Trust will emphasise the need to utilise and develop local skills, materials, products and entrepreneurial activity including existing businesses and housing developers in order to respond sensitively to the qualities of the local environment.

Far from adopting parochial or backward-looking stances, the Trust will harness the resources of the wider world and work in partnership with other organisations in support of development that serves its local communities and which, at the same time, is ecologically responsible.

The Trust's Four Simple Rules of Sustainable Housing

To understand sustainable housing we need to understand the cause-and-effect chain of energy use, pollution, health, local ecology and biodiversity, climate and so on. This is complex; but simple rules to help create effects that are primarily positive rather than negative. So, for success, the process is one of simplification.

  • The First Simple Rule: use local and natural materials as much as possible.
  • The Second Simple Rule: make the house efficient in as simple a way as possible - in water use, in energy use, and as a home to live in. In particular look at orientation for passive solar heating.
  • The Third Simple Rule: use local labour and suppliers to build up local expertise, healthy business relationships and to retain higher levels of income and profit to circulate within the local economy.
  • The Fourth Simple Rule: prioritise quality inside and out, to make the building enjoyable to build and live in and to add to the quality of the immediate environment.
  • Energy used in the construction and occupation of buildings accounts for 50% of the UK's total CO2 emissions, the excessive generation of which is a primary cause of global warming through the "greenhouse effect".
  • Embodied energy in building materials accounts for a further 10% of UK energy use; and construction waste is around 50% of landfill waste.
  • Modern design techniques and materials can drastically reduce these emissions and the consumption of non-renewable resources. They are commercially available but largely ignored by the construction industry.
Office at Plymouth: Government Office for the SW Plymouth office by Celtic Land Ltd using recycled stone and lime mortars; won Abercrombie Design Award

The Trust's Core Activities and Principles

The Trust is committed to working with others to help shape a new model of local, community based, sustainable development, stimulating new ways of thinking and acting that are appropriate for the new Millennium. The Trust will seek to be a centre of excellence for sustainable housing, and to create a development model that is replicable throughout the region and the country as a whole.

The following four Core Principles are fundamental to the Trust's philosophy of sustainability:

  • Simplicity
  • Quality
  • Affordability
  • Responsibility

From Principles To Practise

In translating principles to practice, the aim of the trust is to maximise the beneficial effects of housing and other development, and to minimise or remove the negative economic, ecological, individual and social impacts, by considering these aspects in parallel.

As a Development Trust with social as well as physical and economic objectives, STSD will seek to increase social cohesion, alongside its work to initiate physical and ecological improvements to the environment. It's approach will aim to:

  • Increase individual and community self-reliance.
  • Facilitate individual skills development and community capacity building.

The Somerset Trust for Sustainable Development

The Town Hall, Bow Street, Langport TA10 9PR
Project Manager - Julian Brooks
Tel: Fax:



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