Most of us agree that there’s a now critical need to address the environmental challenges of today: the rapid reduction in the earth’s resources; climate change; and pollution. Whether it’s the materials being used, transportation of goods, or location of new home developments, all of these environmental issues are synonymous with the building industry.
Luckily, the industry has recognised that now is the time to act. Eco builds – housing that’s built within the guidelines of sustainable development – use materials, methods, and technology that capitalise on renewability. In fact, eco building is one of the fastest growing industries in the UK!
So how does the industry design, trial, and test these eco methods? Well, many of the mass produced eco methods used in today’s eco builds have come from standalone or one-off projects. Individuals or groups of innovators come together to design and construct the eco build. The eco methods used are often the vision of the home owner or the architect. Ideas that work especially well are often picked up by new home developers and used on mass. New home builders take these eco methods and evolve them into developments that appeal to a wide range of people.
We’ve purt together some examples of how ambitious eco builds have inspired mass production of eco methods. When you’re deciding on a new build home to buy, you’ll know where all of those eco friendly ideas came from!
The Beddington Zero Energy Development – called the Bed ZED Project for short – is a residential development of 82 homes built with the purpose of testing new eco methods for conservation and sustainability. Built in Wallington, Surrey, in 2002, it’s the UK’s largest carbon neutral community. The eco features of the Bed ZED homes include:
- layout in south facing terraces to maximise on the heat from solar energy;
- wood off-cuts, used in an onsite power plant, provide most of the heat and electricity for the community; and
- house insulation made from recycled materials.
Bed ZED has won many national and international awards for these sustainable initiatives. What’s more, this one off project has inspired many local councils and housing developers to incorporate similar eco methods in their designs.
The Findhorn Foundation Eco-Village is at the opposite end of the UK on Scotland’s north-east coast. Based on the values of sustainable living, this project has become a valuable resource and source of information for the eco build industry. The eco construction methods used include buildings constructed from recycled whiskey barrels and straw bale houses.
Kevin McCabe built the UK’s first ‘cob house’ in 1994. Then another cob house followed in 2005 in Worcestershire. Now cob houses are popping up all over the world, especially in Oregon, America, where this eco craze has really taken off. Modern cob houses (houses made from mud) are built using eco methods adapted from the traditional techniques. Cob houses are sustainable homes because they require lower energy consumption to heat and cool them. During the day, the cob house absorbs the outside heat so it stays cool during the summer. At night, when it’s needed most, it radiates the heat inside.