Earth Hour

I've spent part of this evening contributing to a National Park meeting on renewable energy and sustainable building design and feel quite fired up on the whole subject. I came home, had a great discussion with Steve (before he went to Ikea for late night house shopping), then watched Grand Designs revisited about an underground house which essentially didn't need heating even in winter.

The whole debate about 'eco' and 'sustainable' is massively involved. We have built a well insulated, airtight, timber frame house with a thermal mass of 40 tonnes of concrete in the foundation slab to keep the internal temperature stable - that's great from an energy efficiency perspective, but is that scale of concrete usage a good thing, not least as the production of cement is an energy intensive process? Someone somewhere could maybe establish the whole life cycle energy equation.

Energy efficiency is a very important part of sustainability but I'm not sure if I can get my head around all of the issues. We've got fantastic argon filled double glazed windows with 'u' values of 1.4 (standard windows being between 1.8 and 2.0) and they are from Norway 'cos the Scandinavians having been building sustainable houses for years but ideally we should be buying UK produced windows in order to minimise transportation and support home industries...but it couldn't be done remotely near the cost as they would be regarded as 'one-offs' and 'specials'.

Anyway that's nearly enough...I looked at another blog this eve which prompted me to tell you about Earth Hour whereby you switch off your electricity at 8pm this Saturday for one hour. Its one of those experiments in activism which last year saw the city of Sydney reduce its 'leckie load by 10% thus illustrating the impact of individual actions. See the vid at

Tags: windows

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