What’s Going On Here?
Eco-friendly bamboo buildings are being recognised as the key to humans living harmoniously with the planet. Bring on the Green Housing Revolution!
What Does This Mean?
Buildings with innovative design that use sustainably sourced materials AND run efficiently is not just a utopian fantasy. Architects around the world are working to design homes and public spaces that work with the environment not against it—but there is still a long way to go (see the UN report on CO2 released yesterday).Examples are everywhere: Ilford community market in East London will open next year…with no concrete foundations! Instead, it will have a timber structure, stabilised by rocks in metal cages that can be demounted and reassembled with minimal waste or impact.
Check out the super cool Cork House — which won the Architect Journal awards last week which is made almost entirely from cork. To top off all this positive news, the current UK housing secretary pledged to bring a “climate revolution” to home-building last month, highlighting the political will to make change across the sector.
Why Should We Care?
More sustainable architecture is vital considering nearly 40% of UK greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the “built environment”. This is not surprising since concrete—used in the foundations of most buildings— is the most destructive material on the planet; every tonne of concrete made releases one tonne of CO2. Did you know, if the cement industry were a country, it would be the third-largest carbon dioxide emitter in the world?!
So what is being done to solve this? More and more, architects and urban planners are putting the environment at the centre of their designs, using locally sourced natural materials such as cork and bamboo as well as learning from indigenous building techniques.
Meanwhile, entire cities like Singapore are pioneering heaps of eco-friendly building initiatives. The city aims to be the world’s first ‘green’ city, building structures like the CapitaGreen Building – a double-skin facade that keeps the building’s temperature nice and cool. They have also designed and implemented a sky forest that draws in cool air to help power air conditioning units throughout the building – pretty neat!
Unless you’re in the process of building your very own Grand Designs eco-house then it may seem your impact in this field can be minimal. But there are plenty of ways you can get involved in the eco-movement without moving to the woods…
- Volunteer with an eco-building organisation or attend a self-build eco workshop and offer your muscle to the movement. Example projects include Project Dirt, Down to Earth project or the Low Carbon Trust.
In your home:
- Be smart about water: fix any leaking taps, don’t keep the water running when you wash or shave, install a low-flow shower head and try to keep your shower time down to the length of your favourite song (feel free to sing along).
- Install a smart meter to keep track of the energy you’re using—this will reduce your carbon footprint and your monthly bills.
- If you own your home and have the means to do so, install solar panels to run your home on clean electricity — it’s a long term investment but worthwhile for the planet and your purse!
- Insulate your home properly by double glazing your windows, insulating your loft or making smaller changes like laying rugs on hardwood floors or having thick and toasty curtains.