Solar PV uptake - still FiT for purpose?
- Despite warnings from within the industry about the likely negative effects of the various cuts to the UK’s Feed-in Tariff (FiT), the latest figures show that installed solar photovoltaic capacity continues to grow. The weekly number of domestic scale solar photovoltaic installations broke the 10MW barrier for three successive weeks in December. It was the fourth time in 2013 and the first time ever with no imminent FiT cut. The week ending 8 December saw 2 installations completed across the UK, representing 10.43MW of installed capacity. The following two weeks were even higher. Olwyn Pritchard reports...
Homage to Catalonia:
- The Larixhaus is the first pre-fabricated straw bale passive house on the Iberian Peninsula. A project that took 7 months from start to finish, this single family home is located in the town of Collsuspina, Catalonia, Spain. Through careful bio-climatic design, thermal insulation with straw, an airtight envelope and high-performance windows, the Larixhaus has a projected space heating demand (calculated with PHPP) of 15kWh/m2.a, approximately 80% less than that required by current Spanish building regulations. The project is a modest, but inspiring example of deep-green energy efficient construction, in preparation for the EU’s 2020 deadline, when all newly built homes will need to be 'nearly zero energy'. Oliver Styles reports...
The fabulous life of an eco architect
- "My current, fabulous way of life all started following the realisation that commuting was as bad for the environment as a leaky old un-insulated building. One could also argue of course that it's bad for the soul too. I concluded (as have many others) that one of the most effective measures an individual or business could do to significantly reduce their carbon footprint would be to reduce or eliminate their work related travel"; Jo Saady explains how she and her work colleagues at Ecotecture have tried to do just that...
Denmark Farm Eco Lodge
- Denmark Farm is a 40-acre nature reserve and conservation centre in Ceredigion, West Wales. It is run by parent charity, the Shared Earth Trust, whose twin aims are to restore biodiversity to the countryside, and to help people reconnect with nature. . Accommodation options at the Denmark Farm Conservation Centre had previously comprised either a simple dormitory bed or a tent in the small eco-campsite. Today, visitors to the Centre can enjoy a greater level of luxury in the stunning, new, 'sustainably' built, Eco Lodge. Tricia O'Kane reports...
Healthy buildings must be warm, well ventilated and dry
- Most people spend 80 – 90% of their time indoors, which means the indoor environment is where people meet many of the influences that affect their health and wellbeing, for good or ill. The impact is serious: just one condition affected by the indoor environment, asthma, kills three people a day and costs the country millions of pounds annually. We all want the buildings we create and occupy to be healthy, and the sustainable building world often makes special claims to be creating healthy spaces. But are we directing our attention the right way? Which hazards are most important – and can we actually do anything about them? Kate de Selincourt reports...
Floods – causes, future risks and mitigation strategies
- The floods of the 2013/2014 winter provided
an excellent opportunity for politicians and commentators to demonstrate their knowledge of hydrology. Owen Paterson suggested that SuDS would help the Somerset Levels, David Silvester (UKIP) weighed in with the link between floods and gay marriage and Eric Pickles queried the expertise of the Environment Agency (although he at least managed to avoid suggesting that floods were linked to a lack of weekly bin collections). Given that much of the commentary has been a bit confused, it seems an opportune moment to review some of the basic science of flooding and how it relates to the built environment. Judith Thornton reports...
AECB Local Groups:
- The AECB has a network of local groups across the UK. These provide a great opportunity to meet with fellow AECB members. For more details of dates and venues visit the AECB website (www.aecb.net) or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The following reports from local group events give a flavour of some of the activities you could get involved with. Members are keen to share their knowledge and expertise on different aspects of sustainable building.
The forum debate
Insiders - reports from around the industry
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