Outside of a barn house.

Meet the developer making an impression whilst reducing their carbon footprint.

12 Mar 2024 | 4 min

‘Exclusive by design, inclusive by nature.’

This was the mantra that Mike Battersby and his team at Merge Developments employed when converting an existing site into four stunning barn homes, nestled in the picturesque Cheshire countryside.

The luxury developments were created as Passive Houses – built using a standard for energy efficiency and sustainability - reducing their carbon footprint by 75% when compared to other new builds.

We visited Mike at one of the properties in Mottram St Andrew to chat about the project and why sustainability should be at the heart of every new development.

The idea

“It started with a phrase that my grandmother used to tell me as a kid. ‘You can only be responsible for your own behaviour’. And, she was right.” Mike said, when we asked him where his passion for sustainability started. “We’re all responsible for the part we play in creating a better, healthier world for our children.”

As a developer, Mike knew that he was responsible for the effect that his developments had on the environment, pledging to minimise the carbon footprint of his projects. That’s when he hit on the idea of creating houses built to Passive House standards.

 Sunset view of barn house


As well as lowering the carbon footprint involved in development, Passive Houses are built using recyclable or sustainable materials, airtight construction and high quality insulation. They’re defined by their ability to reduce the amount of energy needed to cool and heat the property; not only great for the environment, but also leading to lower energy costs overall too.

“Utility wise, you’re looking at paying a lot less per year, especially during winter, as the space naturally stays warmer for longer,” says Mike.

“In fact, when we were looking to sell these particular properties, we saw that a lot of buyers were more educated and conscious about making both sustainable and economic choices. They are considering the energy performance certificate (EPC) rating, and how that will impact their bills as well as the environment as a whole. Sustainability has become a unique selling point in itself - developers need to start thinking about it at the very start of their projects.”

The enablement

With their eco-friendly design in place, Mike and his team needed a little bit of help to turn their dream into a sustainable reality. They needed a lender who shared and supported their ambition.

“Most high street lenders would shy away from a project like this, but Together has come on board and made it happen,” said Mike, explaining that it can be difficult to get funding due to Passive Houses using non-standard methods and materials during construction. “Together understood what we wanted to do here and that we needed to use new techniques to achieve it. We felt like we had a partnership we could trust throughout the entire process.”

Paul Moran, Head of Sustainability at Together, loves seeing these types of projects get funded. “Passive House methods are definitely a step in the right direction when it comes to building a more sustainable future. We want to encourage more developers, like Mike, to look at ways to reduce the carbon footprint of their properties employing new methods and materials during construction which will deliver benefits during the life of the property as well.”

The project build

With funding in place, Mike and the team got started turning the old farm buildings into beautiful residential homes, using cutting-edge technology to create spaces that simultaneously blended luxury and energy efficiency.

For example, each house was fitted with a state of the art MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery) system that provides fresh filtered air into the building whilst trapping the majority of the heat already used.

The team also used aluminium clad window frames with a timber core, due to their impressive insulation properties, to further ensure that heat wouldn’t escape through the windows – a common issue in many homes.

Mike estimates that the cumulative effect of all the technology means that each home only uses between 20% to 25% of the energy that a standard house does per year.

The future

Upon completion, Mike loved the development so much that he moved his family into one of the homes.

“How could we not? It’s got all the space and luxuries that we need, and we wanted to take responsibility for our carbon footprint and contribute to the sustainable future that we want to see.”

“Without Together looking at the project as a whole, and using their common-sense approach, we probably wouldn’t have been able to fund the development. If we want to hit the government’s target to be net zero by 2050, lenders are going to need to support developers that are willing to look at the problem and bring innovative ideas.”


If you are environmentally conscious developer looking for help to fund your latest project, visit our Development Finance page where you can contact our team.

At Together, we know that we have a responsibility to our planet, communities, colleagues and customers. You can find out more on how we are looking to meet our sustainability commitments for Our Planet, including reducing the carbon emissions of our business operations by 70% by 2027 and decarbonising completely by 2030, on our Sustainability pages.