Tom Wallace - Building Technology - ECO

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Ecology

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There are over seven billion people on the planet. That means over seven billion opportunities for making the world a better place. Small changes add up to a world of difference. What can be done so that our houses and other buildings don't harm the planet? This page - once completed - will look at Location, Size and Form, Insulation, Materials and Renewable Energy.

Location

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It might be a dream to own a home way out in the countryside, but a home in the town or city is likely to need a lot less by way of travel, heating and infrastructure.

Size and Form

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Terraced houses and flats will generally be more energy-efficient than stand-alone houses. The small compact building shown on the left in the image above, will - all else being equal - be more energy-efficient than the large and more complex form on the right.

Insulation

Where and how insulation is added to a building is very important…

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Insulation towards the outside of the building has more benefit than insulation towards the inside. Whilst this is often harder to achieve in practice, it can be well worth the effort. It is always best to seek expert advice on insulation - especially for existing buildings.

Materials

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The use of natural materials is generally kinder on the environment. The building structure and the insulation can all be provided to a very high standard using natural materials.

Renewable Energy

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The image on the left shows a property that sheds heat to the environment and fails to make use of any resources from its immediate surroundings - the land, the sun and the rain. There is no flow of resources. By contrast, the property on the right makes full use of the free and sustainable resources from the environment. There is a circular flow of resources to and from the building. The days of fossil fuels - oil, gas and coal - are numbered. Electricity is increasingly generated by renewable energy. Transport too is changing towards electric power. When you are looking at changes to your home or workplace it is an ideal opportunity to incorporate one or more ‘micro-renewable’ energy sources. Ask about solar photovoltaic (PV) panels for electricity, solar thermal panels for hot water, and perhaps a heat pump for central heating. If a car is essential then why not prepare for the future by installing an electric car charging point.

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