Of huge benefit
The Green Building Bible Volume 2, entitled ‘The low energy design technical reference’ is billed as ‘The perfect companion to the Green Building Bible, Volume1’.
The content of this book is essentially the technical backup to Volume 1. It too is split up into nine chapters, and although these chapters do not mirror those of Volume 1, they follow a logical path. Starting from the beginning, site location and climate is discussed. This, naturally, is the starting point of any low energy design because the building must suit what the local environment and infrastructure can provide. On from here the second chapter covers form and function and introduces how to calculate heat losses from the building through the fabric and the ventilation as well as how the design of the building can be utilised to improve its overall performance.
The third chapter expands on the performance of the structure and looks at super insulation as well as the thermal performance of doors, windows and other elements of the structure. Infiltration and ventilation are the subject matter for chapter four. Air tightness, of course, plays a large part in the heating requirements of the building and this chapter gives some tips on helping improve air tightness through detailing. Another subject covered at length is this chapter is passive or natural ventilation design.
Chapter five talks at length about energy and renewables, including practical calculations to help determine the potential output of renewable energy sources for your given installation. The subject of renewable energy sources is probably, for me at least, one of the most exciting parts of ‘green’ building. Super insulation and air tightness have been common place across many parts of Europe for many years now, and as such there is a great deal of information on these matters. Renewable energy sources, on the other hand, are a relatively new to the majority of people. Understanding how these systems work, and how they can be bought together to create a system that actually works in reality, is vital in ensuring that the time, money and faith that is put in some of these systems and what they represent (i.e. net zero carbon) yields satisfactory results for the end user.
Lighting and heating systems, both mechanical and natural, are covered in chapter six. There are, again, calculations and practical examples of how a balance of natural lighting can be achieved whilst considering heat loss in the winter and overheating in the summer. There is also a raft of information about types of lighting and installation to maximise the effect whilst minimising power requirements.
Chapter seven covers cooling and starts out by discussing how to reduce unwanted heat gains. Passive cooling is also discussed at great length with examples of the use of thermal mass and earth tubes, as well as maximising the performance of mechanical cooling systems.
Water conservation is the subject of chapter eight, and energy management and monitoring are the subject of chapter nine.
The front of this book says it is ‘The perfect companion to the Green Building Bible, Volume 1’. The two publications complement each other very well, with Volume 1 providing a huge amount of background information, and Volume 2 providing the technical information to turn the contents of Volume 1 into reality. I am also of the opinion, however, that Volume 2 stands fully on its own as a competent and helpful publication.
For those involved with either a self build project, those who want to learn more about sustainable building and living and even for construction professions, the information contained in these two publications will undoubtedly prove of huge benefit.