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6 of the UK’s Best Eco Buildings

Eco buildings are not just a fad anymore. They’re becoming an essential part of modern building design and construction and making a significant contribution towards the beauty and sustainability of their surroundings.

Let’s take a closer look at six great examples of eco building design around the UK. 

Dalby Forest Visitor Centre 

© Copyright Pauline E and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Located in North Yorkshire, this new visitor centre was the recipient of the Better Public Building Award for 2007. The wood used to clad the structure came from the nearby forest, which also supplies the wood chips that power the boiler. Electricity is delivered via a series of photovoltaic panels and a micro wind turbine, and the toilets are flushed using rainwater collected from the roof. Even the reception desk is made from recycled materials- in this instance, mobile phones, old Wellington boots, and yoghurt pots. 

The National Trust Headquarters 

The National Trust headquarters in Swindon is arguably one of the greenest offices in the country, with 65% less carbon emissions than similar structures due to photovoltaic panels on the roof, which also supply nearly one-third of all the electricity needed. The building was made using eco-friendly materials such as water-based paints and PVC-free linoleum. Even the ventilation slots on the roof are made from recycled beer cans and the wool carpets were ‘donated’ by the Trust’s sheep flocks. 

Cockermouth School Eco Centre 

© Copyright Alexander P Kapp and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

This school in West Cumbria has its own Eden project. The eco centre has four biomes to duplicate different ecosystems, such as wet, alpine, and arid climates. The foundation’s paving slabs are recycled from an old cinema and the piles used to be food drums in a previous life. Outside, a wind turbine provides electricity for both lighting and supplementary heating.  


Bow in East London is not the place where you’d ordinarily expect to find an eco building, but BowZed, a four-flat block with zero-fossil energy, is so celebrated that both Gordon Brown and Ruth Kelly have visited it. It is so well-insulated that none of the flats have central heating systems, and the inhabitants get 50% of their electricity from a micro wind turbine on the stair tower and 40% from photovoltaic panels. A wood-powered boiler provides hot water. 

Jubilee Library 

By The Voice of Hassocks (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Next time you're in Brighton, be sure to add a visit to the Jubilee Library to your itinerary.  Green elements are blended seamlessly with both architecture and engineering, with the cement in the building structure being used as a source of cooling or heating. Solar-controlled louvres on the glass front protect the library from overheating. 

Eden Foundation building 

The Eden Foundation building in St Austell, Cornwall is recycling at its finest. Old newspapers are used to insulate the roof, walls, and floor, making it one of the best insulated buildings in the country. To minimise the amount of soil removed from the location during construction as well as the amount of cement needed to build it, the building sits on timber columns. As an added bonus, the development is completely PVC-free.  

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