Our approach to sustainable building design

Form follows function – don’t shoot the messenger

“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” – Charles Mingus

When a designer says ‘we are interested in sustainability but we have never had a suitable client’, alarm bells should ring. Good function and sustainability  cannot, by definition, be an option any more than meeting fire regulations or making sure the building doesn’t collapse.

We don’t have a magic performance wand to wave over a design. What we do is work with the design team from the start. This is because good performance (energy, comfort, environment, cost) must be designed in. Form follows function is not an ideology or style, it is physics. You can add jet engines to a building but it won’t turn it into an aeroplane.

checking sun pathHistory

Elemental Solutions was set up in 1996. Its principal Nick Grant works as a freelance energy and water consultant and in association with other specialists who share his no-nonsense approach to sustainable design.


What we offer

We are multidisciplinary, please see under ‘Services’ for what we can offer. Our input can vary from a one hour chat to help a self-builder think through options to full passivhaus design support, site supervision and final tuning for a school or large housing development.

Who we work with

We will happily work with individuals or as part of a larger design team.

Eco-Simplicity, no Eco-Bling

AECB never mind the greenwashOur approach to sustainable design is different to most. We reluctantly call it eco-minimalism or eco-simplicity as we are suspicious of isms but know that labels are a useful shortcut.

We like to help design in function and performance but to design kit out. We welcome small budgets and other constraints. We question everything.


Thermal bridge free raft foundation

Where possible we would rather roll up our sleeves and fix something than issue an instruction for it to be fixed.



monitoring passivhaus archiveSometimes we are wrong but we try and admit our mistakes  so others can learn from them.

Above all we enjoy what we do. Solving problems and making things is fun.

Integrated Design

We are advocates of integrated design where the whole team engages in the design process. This allows problems to be designed out rather than fixed by adding further complication.