Kevin McCloud's Green Heroes

Kevin McCloud's Green Heroes

The designer and TV presenter keeps his eyes peeled for eco-friendly products and green building materials. Here are just a few of his favourites

By Sophie Barritt
Ting London turns old leather belts into gorgeous flooring

Kevin McCloud has been on the hunt for innovative, eco-friendly products for the home. You can see his 2014 collection at Grand Designs Live ExCel in May. Pictured above: Ting London makes bespoke floor coverings from high quality leather belts

Kevin McCloud, presenter of Grand Designs Live, knows his onions when it comes to sustainability in design and architecture; hence his Green Heroes nominations are eagerly awaited.

This is the fourth year he's put together his selection of products he feels are innovative, eco-friendly and of high quality, and visitors to Grand Designs Live at the ExCel exhibition centre in east London from 3-11 May can see them for themselves.

They're a varied bunch that includes a 3D wall covering made from bamboo; flooring from old leather belts, lights made from washing machine drums, and a bio-fuel made from coffee grounds.

Take your walls to the third dimension

3D Walldecor is a young Dutch company that thinks flat is boring when it comes to walls. So the team have designed a choice of contemporary 3D coverings made from bamboo pulp - bamboo being very fast growing and sustainable. Product comes as modular panels which are easy to attach to your walls, and which can be painted as required.


3D wall covering from Dutch company 3D Walldecor is made from bamboo pulp
Bio-Bean collects coffee grounds from across London and turns them into bio-mass pellets and bio-diesel.
Old scaffold poles become the William bed frame from Norfolk's Wrought Iron & Brass Bed Company.
Pendant  Drum light made from an old washing machine drum. By Willem Heefer,

London is full of beans

Coffee beans have become a good source for bio fuel, or to be more precise, the grounds left after you've finished your cappuccino are.. London-based Bio Bean is an innovative green energy company - much admired by London Mayor Boris Johnson - that collects coffee grinds from cafes and restaurants across the capital and turns them in bio-diesel and bio-mass pellets. 

Bio-Bean was set up by Arthur Kay and Benjamin Harriman, who both trained as architects, and they've worked with chemical engineers to develop their products. 

London alone generates some 200,000 tonnes of coffee grounds annually. And while you might think this material shouldn't be a problem given that it's from a plant, coffee grinds in this volume create large amounts of methane gas in landfill. So it's very good news that Bio-Bean are already diverting nearly all of these grounds from landfill and creating green energy products.

From washing machine to ceiling

Dutch designer Willem Heefer hates to see anything go to waste. And when he put his mind to how to make use of old washing machine parts, he saw a lot of potential in the drum. His answer - to upcycle old drums into modern pendant lights. His Drum lights are powder-coated and are presently available in pink, blue and cream. Heefer says he particularly likes the fact that his core material has a new life as something totally unrelated to its original incarnation. Lights are made from 90 per cent recycled material.

Belt up

Ting London has for the past decade been perfecting its bespoke flooring and surface covering made from leather belts people no longer want. Products look richly luxurious, are very warm and tactile and are both interesting and unusual.  

As well as floors, the patterned material is suitable for walls, table tops and feature areas.

Each belt is selected to ensure a high grade of leather and durability; the belts are then stripped of their metals components, hand-cleaned and prepared for processing. The composition for each tile or panel is designed in-house to assure the correct pattern and colour balance for the interior its heading for.
Look out for the Green Heroes banner at ExCel during the show 3-11 May
Kevin McCloud has a strong personal interest in sustainable design
Sheffield-based Inno-Therm insulation is made from 85 per cent recycled denim/cotton.

Lay lady lay

...not across a capacious brass bed, as Bob Dylan sung about so sweetly.. but across a splendid bed made in Norfolk using redundant metal scaffold poles. The William bed from the family-owned Wrought Iron & Brass Bed Company is a hard-wearing, eco-friendly and, of course, stylish bedframe that should last a few lifetimes.

Made from old scaffolding and railings, the frames are powder coated to give them a smooth, tactile finish. 


Bit high tech this one, but of interest to self-builders... Isocrete Floor Screed is a green concrete which incorporates a number of heavy-duty, self-smoothing and environmentally-friendly surface underlayments, along with damp-proof membranes. The Green Screed range is designed to be as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible, from manufacture to installation. The material has tremendous longevity, we're told.  
Inno-Therm Recycled Denim Insulation
Innotherm has insulation blocks made from 85 per cent recycled denim/cotton. The blocks are easy to fit and have excellent acoustic properties.
Groundshield Foundation System
Another one for people thinking about building a house... Established Swedish engineering company Advanced Foundation Technology has designed a robust and adaptable green foundation product called Groundshield. And you can read all about it here.
Groundshield components work together to give an energy efficient, self-shuttering and lightweight foundation system that is quick and easy to install and requires the minimum amount of excavation work.