Traditionally country houses are built from indigenous materials. Clay from a borrow pit would typically be fired in clamps to make 80,000-100,000 bricks. So while the fuel was renewable, the embodied energy was very high – giving a footprint of perhaps 80 tonnes of carbon emission.
In contrast, Downley House’s use of timber gives a net gain of approximately 31 tonnes of sequestered carbon. The structure, which envelops an old masonry façade, uses 140 tonnes of cross-laminated timber from Austria – equal to 1800 trees. A lorry-mounted press travelling to local sources would have saved further on the transportation debt.