3 posts categorized "Building"

Friday, 10 February 2012

Eco Renovation – Are Old Buildings Plight or Remedy?

A Wasting Disease

Part of being more careful with the environment and our impact on it is not to be so wasteful. Energy is an ever present element in this. That can be directly by leaving the door open in the middle of winter or indirectly when food that was never going to be eaten is thrown away and the gadget that has lost its novelty appeal ends up in the bin while still working perfectly.

All these will be replaced – the heat that has escaped, the leftovers that have been forgotten in the fridge for so long they jump out and strangle you, the i-Whatsit whose one major fault is that it is last year’s model. And every time wasting energy is inescapable, because we use it when we try to stay warm, go to shops to buy something new that wasn’t necessary, that certain something is being produced.

The same goes for throwing away buildings. When there is talk about eco-friendly houses normally we are thinking of property not even built yet. The growing trend of reducing our impact on the environment concentrates on the latest technologies and discoveries. ‘New’ and ‘better’ are words uttered in the same breath by politicians, developers and environmentalists with unfailing regularity – groups not usually known for the harmony between them.

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Saturday, 17 December 2011

Pros and Cons of Sheep Wool Insulation

I really don’t envy the Babylonians. Apparently, about 6000 years ago they wore one of the earliest examples of cloth woven from sheep wool. Going by some of my sweaters it is no wonder they became the byword for everything nasty. All that itching and scratching must have driven them mad.

Even so, since this isn’t a blog about apparel, why should wool be a topic at all? The reason is we cannot talk about renewables and forget conserving energy. For someone with a heart for ecology both go hand in hand.

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Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Zero Carbon House – Dream or Reality?

Philosophically speaking, for anyone not completely without sympathy for this planet it should be both. However, life intervenes with planning departments, empty bank accounts and the question whether ‘zero carbon’ is more than a slogan.

Zero What?

In theory it is quite simple. The term describes residential and commercial buildings that generate and preserve as much energy as is needed by its inhabitants to live and work comfortably. The emphasis is very much on conserving heat with no or very little extra input required. In Germany it is called, therefore, ‘Passivhaus’ (passive house) because it provides warmth mainly by preventing it from escaping in the first place. Utilising additional sources, such as sunlight through large areas of glass or the heat emitted by inhabitants, supplementary, active generation is brought as close to zero as possible. Anything extra should come from renewable sources, for example, solar panels, ground source heat pumps, etc. This helps to keep the carbon dioxide (CO2) balance neutral.

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