About us

We’re Building Green in Montenegro
We are a retired British couple who bought some land in Risan in 2007 with the intention of building the first family house in Montenegro designed to German Passivhaus standards.

We have spent many years in the Western Balkans. Although in the eight years up to his retirement James was in the diplomatic world, his background and most of his career was industrial and commercial in Scotland. Similarly, Anke’s former business was operating between UK and Germany at the high-tech end of aerospace and similar industries, though while being in the Balkans through her voluntary work with various NGOs she has become a social entrepreneur.

With life-long interests in the environment and ecology, we seized this opportunity not only to build a house for ourselves and our extended families, but also as a demonstration for Montenegrins of what is possible, practical and economic while being at the forefront of sound environmental practice.

We finally managed to get (most of) the house built in 2013. See the progress on The Build in Photos

Needless to say, this being the Balkans, things have not worked out entirely as originally planned!

Panoramic view of the mountains on the eastern side of Risan – sorry about the ‘bend’ but the photo spans 180º

This site is a Work-In-Progress, describing the overall aims of our project, which is not just to build a family home for ourselves, but to help and encourage others in this beautiful country to design, build and live in equally low-energy houses.

We have a section for the Technical aspects for all the design features relating to energy and water saving. There is a sub-page specifying what we looked for.

We also have a section on Risan and its neighbourhood, to give you some idea of just how special and beautiful this part of the world is.

For a general background on our project, we suggest you read Anke’s blog which she started in mid 2007. There is also a Sort of a Diary page on this site which meanders along giving some key events, with a sub-page about the tortoises on the site.

Along the way, we were co-opted (ie arm-twisted) into helping to establish a Green Building Council for Montenegro, something which took up an inordinate amount of time. This was especially true for James, whom the others on the small Initiating Group (mainly Montenegrins) decided would be Chairman. Anke dusted off her formidable marketing skills and fed Montenegro (and the world) with all sorts of stimulating information. It did give us the opportunity to make some extremely good friends as well as bringing us into contact with all sorts of people, in government and society generally, whom we would have been most unlikely to have met otherwise. We managed to retire in 2015.