I was delighted to be invited on to the Elizabeth Alker Sunday late radio show on BBC Lancashire / BBC Manchester and discuss sustainability and improving energy use in the home. Below is a precise of my comments, links and references:
“Based in Inglewhite on the south western edge of the Forest of Bowland, a great part of Lancashire in which to live and to work from. I run a sustainability consultancy business, Fairsnape, supporting organisations in the built environment on sustainability issues. Typically this means working with construction organisations clients, contractors,architects as well as individuals. I am Chair of Constructing Excellence Lancashire and UK Ambassador for the Living Building Challenge”
As I followed inspiring sustainability sessions from Vincent Walsh (Biospheric Project Salford), Kerry Gormley (OnePlanet) and Jacqui Brocklehurst (Hungry Gardener) I continued the ‘green nature and plants’ theme with a quick intro to the Living Building Challenge:
“The Living Building Challenge encourages us to look at buildings differently, and imagine buildings and indeed homes using the metaphor of a flower, one that is independent, self sufficient, using only the energy and water that falls on it. The Challenge covers 7 Petals; Place (location, relationship to nature and food) Water; Energy (100% sun!); Health and Happiness; Material; Equity and Beauty. It is based on the philosophy of doing more good, not just less bad. Regenerative Sustainability” More at http://living-future.org/lbc
Why do we need to do this?
“Sustainability is often described as having three elements – Economic; we want to reduce the money we spend on fuel and services for the home, Social; we want to be healthy, happy and feel good in the home, and Environmental; we all want to play our bit in improving our local environment, reducing carbons and addressing climate change, And it is our buildings that have one of the biggest impacts on climate change” And we see the affect of climate change increasingly through extreme weather patterns.
What can we do in the home to improve energy sustainability?
Easy / Low Cost – Check energy and water wastage – gadgets left on or on standby for example. (Its is estimated that 8% of energy production goes just to keep our stuff on standby!) Switch to LED and low energy lighting. Get an electricity meter and find out exactly where you are using energy, and watch how that kettle boils!
Medium Cost: Ensure insulation and draughts – 43% of UK homes have serious energy leaks through ill-fitting windows and doors. Get an EPC ( an Energy Performance Certificate for your home – it will show you how energy-efficient your home actually is)
High Cost: Look at alternative energy supply – PV and Solar Panels are most appropriate, Ground Source/Air Source if you have the space. However the investment can be high and returns slow, so make sure you tackle any energy waste and home efficiency issues first!
For more tips and information check out the Energy Saving Trust via their informative web pages at http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/ and follow on @EnergySvgTrust
Funding is available from time to time although initiatives like the green deal are a political football, and has been called the ‘green sub-prime’ For advice from approved Green Deal organisations see the Green Deal ORB site http://gdorb.decc.gov.uk/
And importantly for any builders and trades people you may use make sure they carry the TrustMark – find out more at http://www.trustmark.org.uk/ or via their twitter feed on @trustmarkUK
Other topics I mentioned included:
Healthy Materials – be sure that the materials used in any improvement scheme are healthy. There are some great materials for energy efficiency once they are in the place, but increasingly we should be concerned where the materials come from (is the manufacturing process harmful to the environment or workers) and where it goes (is the removal or demolition hazardous, can then be reused?) Note that PVC and other ‘Red List’ materials are the next harmful products to consider avoiding in this respect!
Circular Economy – moves us from our traditional Make, Buy, Dump linear thinking to a circular approach that keeps materials and products in use as long as possible, up-cycling and recycling in the home for other uses rather than put in the bin. Brings back the Make Do and Mend concepts!
Passive House – a standard that sets very stringent limits on how much energy for heat a house can use – requiring super levels of airtightness and insulation. Mechanical Ventilation is used to deal with air quality, fresh air and managing humidity levels.
The show is (still) on iplayer, with my session just after midnight (2.10.30 in) following Gypsy Tramps and Thieves up to just after Babooshka, Kate Bush around 12.30. Enjoy!