I came across this in The Telegraph, of all places! The Tranquility Houses project is very interesting as it seeks to build or renovate houses to have a minimal environmental footprint, principally in terms of energy and water usage, but also taking into account the use of materials to build them and practicality.
One of my dreams is one day to build a house that has a very low or no net energy requirement and with as small an environmental footprint as possible. I don’t know for certain about global warming. On balance I think it is likely, but even if it isn’t, minimising our environmental footprint seems like a good idea to me.
Our houses (rather than cars) account for our largest energy demands as well as water and waste, so I’ve been looking at what I might be able to do at some stage. WeberHaus produce an interesting zero energy house. What I find particularly frustrating is that it can be quite difficult to find out what can be done practically and that there is little explicit cost/benefit analysis.
It is very difficult to find out sensible analysis for alternative electricity and heating sources, most notably wind and solar power. This is also true on a larger scale with the farce over wind farms. It seems to me that government concentrates on “big” solutions rather than helping us modify our houses to be more energy efficient.
Even things like light bulbs have been subject to enormous disinformation. In arriving at the energy saving figures, it was conveniently ignored that the heat given out by incandescent bulbs is not lost, but contributes to heating the house. Also, the brightness of “energy saving” bulbs was over estimated. Also the extra cost and pollution in producing fluorescent bulbs was not taken into account. Hence, the “energy saving” bulbs may not be energy saving at all!
Getting back to Tranquility Houses, it is good to see someone being realistic and practical. What we need is for politicians to stop grandstanding and producing short-term initiatives. We need practical help in modifying our homes, with micro-initiatives and long-term planning. What’s the chance of that? Unfortunately, I think we know the answer.