The Sustainable Building Association

AECB, the Sustainable Building Association, is a network of individuals and companies with a common aim of promoting sustainable building. It brings together builders, architects, designers, manufacturers, housing associations and local authorities, to develop, share and promote best practice in environmentally sustainable building.

The AECB was established in 1989 as the Association of Environment Conscious Builders (later, the Association for Environment Conscious Building) to increase awareness within the construction industry of the need to respect the environment.

The AECB is run by its members and is an independent, not for profit organisation. We promote excellence in design and construction, rather than gimmicks and green accounting tricks. The AECBs standards and advice are founded on a detailed and realistic understanding of the performance of buildings, constructed and refurbished in the real world, for real users.

What do we do?

The AECB's three main roles are
• To provide a forum for members and others to discuss, test and share principles and methods of sustainable building
• To draw this experience together into rigorous standards, and to assist members and others to apply these standards
• To inform and lobby the construction sector and government so that sustainability of building is improved across the board

Discussion and sharing take place on the AECB's busy web forum on all aspects of building and sustainability, at regular local group meetings, discussions and study visits, at the annual members' conference, on study tours, and by personal networking between members.

The Association's annual conference is a key event in the sustainable building calendar, featuring top level debate, and presentations from the leaders in the field from the UK and internationally. Discussion and networking also take place at the regular meetings of the growing network of local groups.

The AECB draws on the collective learning of its members, and of the international sustainable building community, to develop standards and guidance that deliver buildings with genuinely improved environmental performance. These rigorous, tested and workable standards for sustainable building are published through the AECB's CarbonLite programme, which also offers accreditation of buildings to these standards.

We have a suite of three standards for low energy building design: the AECB Silver Standard, Passivhaus Standard and Gold Standard. There is also an AECB Water Standard. The Carbonlite Programme offers regular training courses in designing to the standards, and study tours visiting state of the art buildings and meeting their design teams. The training offers first-hand insight into best practice nationally and internationally. AECB members also have access to supporting materials via the website.

About Sustainable Building

Domestic Eco-Renovation + Eco-Maintenance

Upgrading existing properties to make them as energy efficient as possible is an important part of reducing the UK’s CO 2 [Carbon Dioxide] emissions. In addition, we need to maintain the building fabric of our homes both internally and externally, while minimising the environmental impact of any refurbishment work undertaken.

Reduce energy and CO 2 emissions in use

To heat and light your home and power your appliances you will produce CO 2 . It is important to minimise these emissions. Reduce the energy consumption of your home by improving the building fabric, eliminating uncontrolled ventilation [draughts] and using energy efficient lights and appliances. Reduce CO 2 emissions further by careful choice of heating system. If your house is heated by electricity, replace electric heaters with a central heating system fed by a condensing boiler [mains gas, LPG, oil] or high efficiency wood burning boiler. Using electricity to heat homes and hot water has a very high environmental impact. Almost twice as much CO 2 is produced per kWh of electricity as opposed to a kWh of heat from a gas condensing boiler.

• REPLACE old boilers with an A-rated condensing boiler
• UPGRADE controls for the boiler and hot water cylinder, and fit thermostatic radiator valves
• INSULATE hot water cylinder and pipe work, especially the primary pipe work between the boiler and cylinder
• INSTALL reflective foil behind radiators that are on outside walls
• DRAUGHT PROOF doors, windows and unsealed openings such as disused chimneys. Introduce controlled ventilation to prevent condensation problems
• UPGRADE loft insulation. 200mm of insulation ( recycled cellulose, sheep's wool, mineral fibre) is the recommended minimum
• INSULATE and draught proof suspended wooden floors. Ensure floor void is well ventilated
• INSULATE external walls. Grants may be available for cavity wall insulation. Check with your local council
• UPGRADE single glazed windows to high performing timber framed double glazed windows with soft coat low-e glass with argon fill, or install secondary glazing
• INSTALL low energy light bulbs
• BUY A-rated washing machines, fridge freezers etc (or A+ if available)
• SIGN UP to a "green" electricity supplier to stimulate the growth of renewables in the electricity industry.
• However, using green electricity does not offset the CO 2 emissions from electric space heaters
• CONSIDER installing a solar water heating system, photovoltaic’s and/or a wind turbine. Grants are available (up to April 2006 if funds last) from central Government for the installation of some zero or low carbon energy systems. However do not do this at the expense of basic energy efficiency measures

Conserve water and reduce storm water run off

Demand for water in the UK is rising steadily. The average person in the UK uses 140 litres of water a day. This rising demand is a problem, especially during times of low rainfall. At the same time flooding is increasing, both from building on flood plains but also because of the increased rainfall. A sustainable water strategy addresses both these issues.

• FIT cistern displacement devices into existing WC cisterns (available free from your local water supplier)
• FIT flush reduction devices to existing WCs
• WHEN replacing WCs consider models with an effective flush of 4.5L or less
• FIT flow regulators on basin taps and showers if your water supply is fed from the mains. However if you have an electric shower never fit any thing to lessen the flow as this can cause scalding.
• COLLECT rainwater for use in the garden and construct a garden that requires minimum water with drought resistant species and plenty of organic mulches. This reduces your water demand and also reduces the strain on surface water drains during storms.

Reduce pollution and resource depletion in the external environment

Every material you use will have had some sort of environmental impact during its manufacture, some more than others. Use local, renewable or natural materials. When looking at a particular material choice always ask, "does its unique positive function over-ride its environmental impact?"

• CHOOSE only zero ozone depleting materials (Zero ODP)
• CONSIDER materials that are natural and from a renewable resource
• CHOOSE materials that have a low embodied energy and are not polluting in their manufacture, use or disposal
• USE locally grown or FSC accredited timber
• USE durable timber species externally to reduce the amount of preservatives that are needed, e.g. heartwood of English oak, sweet chestnut and European larch
• USE materials or products that are reclaimed or recycled
• CHOOSE durable products that have a long life span and are low maintenance
• SOURCE materials from manufacturers with a proven environmental management record who can readily supply environmental and health data

Reduce pollution in the internal environment

The internal environment in many buildings is often more polluted than the external environment. Allergies such as asthma are on the increase, as are cases of multiple chemical sensitivity. Some materials, for example many paints and carpets, give off harmful gases once in the house

• USE hard flooring and avoid carpets / coverings that will harbour dust mites, chemicals etc
• USE linoleum instead of vinyl flooring
• USE low emission paints and finishes
• THERE is generally no need to treat internal timbers if basic good design principles are followed. Establish the cause of insect or rot attack and rectify using environmental controls where possible (adjust temperature, ventilation etc to make atmosphere undesirable to fungi and pests)
• AVOID chemical damp proofing where possible. Most damp problems can be solved by repairing defects in the building structure , e.g. clearing gutters and drains, unblocking air bricks, repointing etc
• CONSIDER reducing the effect of electromagnetic fields when re-wiring


Gardens can be a haven for wildlife. The following will improve the natural habitat.

• RETAIN hedges and protect from building work
• CREATE wild areas using native trees, shrubs and wildflowers
• ENCOURAGE wildlife by installing bird / bat boxes
• BUILD dry stone walls
• PUT in a pond
• Conserve water and reduce storm water run off cont.....
• FIT flow regulators on basin taps and showers if your water supply is fed from the mains. However if you have an electric shower never fit any thing to lessen the flow as this can cause scalding.
• COLLECT rainwater for use in the garden and construct a garden that requires minimum water with drought resistant species and plenty of organic mulches. This reduces your water demand and also reduces the strain on surface water drains during storms.

This fact sheet was written by Cath Hassell for the Association for Environment Conscious Building (AECB) May 2005. Produced with the financial assistance of the Ecology Building Society

10 pointers towards more sustainable buildings

If funds are limited, build or refurbish to current Building Regulations and think carefully about the following.


• Create space to grow food.
• Develop links with local food suppliers.


• Think carefully about your personal transport patterns.
• If public transport links are not good, car share schemes or solar-powered electric vehicles could be a more effective way of reducing your personal CO2 burden than improved building performance.


• Low water-use appliances should be used.
• WC Less than 6 litres per flush
• Shower No more than 9 litres per minute, preferably 6
• Washing machine 50 litres per wash or less
• Dishwasher 16 litres per cycle or less
• Restrict excessive dead legs' on hot water outlets to less than 5 meters.

If you want to go further then think about the following 10 points to more sustainable buildings.

1. Insulation - This is the starting point. Think thick use about 300 mm of insulation all round in the roof, walls and floor. Make sure the insulation material has a zero ozone depletion potential (ZODP)
2. Insulation - Make sure the windows are not a weak link in the fabric insulation. Consider double or triple glazing with low emissivity coatings and gas filling. Avoid PVC frames.
3. Insulation - Take care to eliminate thermal bridges in the insulation. This is particularly important at the junctions between walls, roofs and floors and around openings. Also bridging in the structure needs attention: timber studs, metal wall ties; block work returns can all reduce the effectiveness of the insulation.
4. Air tightness - There is no point in having lots of insulation if air can leak through the structure. Take a strategic view of how air leakage is to be avoided. Design airtight details. Use a pressure test to ensure the strategy has been carried through on site.
5. Ventilation - In an airtight construction it is important to supply air where it is needed when it is needed. Use a system that supplies and extracts air such as Passive Stack Ventilation (PSV), assisted PSV (both using humidity controlled inlet and exhaust grilles) or heat recovery ventilation (HRV). HRV is the most efficient but to be a net benefit the heat exchanger needs to be over 70% efficient and the fan power needs to be less than 2 W per litre/sec of extract air (you can do better than this). Also the unit and all the ductwork should be kept within the insulated / airtight shell.
6. Lighting - Take great care to provide good daylight conditions in all habitable rooms. Use energy efficient lighting throughout. Use dedicated' compact fluorescent lamps which cannot be swapped for inefficient tungsten lamps.
7. Electrical Appliances - Consider ways of eliminating the need for electrical appliances. Provide a clothes' drying space, provide a cold room for food storage. Use only A-rated appliances (or A++ for fridges and freezers). Look carefully at the stand-by losses of all appliances especially TVs, videos, computers, cookers.
8. Healthy living - Choose appropriate paints and finishes (consider natural' or mineral' paints; otherwise low-VOCsynthetic'), coupled with a good ventilation system, to ensure a fresh environment. Use floorboards in preference to carpets.
9. Embodied energy - Don't get too hung up on the energy used to produce the building materials. Usually it is not significant in terms of the energy used to run the building. But keep an eye on transport energy particularly when dealing with heavy materials such as masonry.
10. Renewables - If the load reduction measures have been addressed, then it makes sense to consider renewable energy systems. Biomass (logs, wood chips, wood pellets) can be used for heating and hot water. A small wind turbine is likely to be more cost effective for providing electricity than photovoltaic (PV) panels. Solar panels can be used to provide about half the hot water needs. All the systems need good controls.

The AECB is indebted to John Willough for this checklist –

Why join the AECB?

The core functioning of the AECB is solely funded by membership subscriptions, so the Association really does need you.

Our financial independence means that we can be an entirely independent voice when lobbying Government and trying to influence the agenda for sustainable construction in the UK.

The Association needs your membership to continue its essential work, but also offers an attractive range of benefits in return.

As a member you will:
• be part of an organization which networks some of the UK's leading ecobuilding practitioners;
• have full voting rights, and the opportunity to both influence AECB policy and play an active part, if you wish, in moving forward the work of the AECB;
• Have access to the annual Ecobuilding Conference. This opportunity to attend what many see as the leading-edge event in the UK is open only to AECB members (there is an additional fee for attendance);
• have full access to the online Forum, giving the opportunity to network with some of the UK's leading ecobuilding practitioners you can contribute to the development of best practice, or simply ask those difficult questions in our Technical Forums;
• have access to restricted 'members only' areas of the website, allowing you to not only download all AECB minutes, lobbying reports etc, but also technical papers as they become available;
• receive a listing in the public access searchable online database*;
• receive four editions a year of Green Building magazine, packed full of ecobuilding news and articles;
• have the right to use the AECB logo on your business letterhead*;
• receive a wide range of discounts on products and services from other AECB members;
• Have access to occasional events and special offers available only to AECB members.
• Various downloads regarding the Gold and Silver Standard

For further information please contact us

Association for Environment Conscious Building
PO Box 32,
SA44 5ZA
Tel: 0845 4569773


Types of Green Building jobs

Landscape Architect
Design Technician
Field Energy Consultant
Energy Conservation Representative
Energy Manager & Analyst
Environmental Compliance Specialist
Water Systems Designer and Engineer
Environmental Compliance Specialist
Refrigeration Engineer
Lighting & HVAC Engineer
Civil Engineer
HVAC Engineer
Electrical Engineer
Residential Green Building and Retrofit Architect
Commercial Green Building and Retrofit Architect
Indoor & Outdoor Landscape Architect
Industrial Green Systems & Retrofit
Environmental Construction Engineer
Energy Engineer
Structural Design Engineer
Insulation Installer
Water Purification Systems Service Technician
Building Maintenance Engineer
Green Plumber and Pipefitter
HVAC Service Technician
Roofing and Skylight Installer
Residential Energy Field Auditor
Commercial Energy Field Auditor
Industrial Energy Field Auditor
Auditing Services Sales Consultant
Renewable Energy Consultant
BREEAM, LEED Standards
Ecological designer

To be the first to find out about new Green Building jobs please click here

Latest Job Listings