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Green Corner


 

 

 

An A-Z of the environment & issues

by Peter Hatswell

 

 

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photo: BioRegional Development GroupZ is for Zero Emission Developments (ZED)

 

National statistics show us that 50% of UK carbon emissions are due to the heating of buildings and the movement of people between them, that building occupants produce more landfill waste than any other source and that 20% of new building materials are thrown away during construction.

Many of you will have seen pictures of the housing scheme in Beddington, Surrey (the BedZED scheme) which was one of the first new estates to attempt to dramatically reduce emissions. This estate of 82 homes built in 2002, features many methods of waste control including super-thick insulation, wind powered ventilation, solar panels feeding an electric car pool, sky gardens, built-in shop and café, use of reclaimed building materials and a wood waste communal power generating system. (This system dries and burns tree prunings from the locality which would otherwise have been land-filled). All the homes are draught-sealed to a high standard and receive fresh dry preheated air through an exchanger in the natural ventilation system, recovering heat from extracted warm humid air from the kitchens and bathrooms.

The optimum orientation of the houses to gain the maximum benefit from the sun is an aspect that should be considered in all new developments such as those planned by the Government to the north and west of our conurbation. Water consumption reductions of 50% were sought for BedZED with such simple changes such as mains pressurised showers rather than power showers, rainwater collection for garden watering and loo flushing, plus their own on site reed bed for cleaning foul water and recycling. The use of porous surfaces on hard-standing areas allows rainwater to soak into the soil rather than run off into local sewers.

Compared with current UK levels, the preliminary results showed a 45% reduction for heating water, 55% less electrical energy for cooking and lighting and a 60% fall in the mains water demand. The residents are proud of their special low energy homes and know that they are treading more lightly on our shared environment. 

 

Peter Hatswell

National

Friends of the Earth

 

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