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Turn it Off, Turn it Down, Maintain it and Improve it

Practical advice on making green building work from TGR member Simon Lewis, the Green House Project

The Green House Project is a Bristol-based building consultancy and member of The Green Register of Construction Professionals. They run workshops to teach industry professionals the basic principles of building science whilst showing them how to use simple tools and perform simple tasks.

The translate green building concepts into practice by offering the opportunity to study air-tightness whilst learning how to use a hammer to fit draught-proofing; and about the importance of reducing water consumption whilst learning to use a wrench to change a tap-washer. This summer they ran a successful series of workshops covering air-tightness, insulation, water conservation and user control as well as workshops on green roofs, and building with lime.

Simon Lewis explains: “Over the years we have learned that although people often approach us with grand plans, they haven’t really thought about the easy wins, so we encourage people to think about these first. If they want to engage a contractor, we suggest that they start with something small and simple so they build up a good relationship before embarking on a major project. Homeowners need to consider things like draught-proofing and insulation before they install a solar hot water system. We encourage people to take the opportunity when working on their house to make small improvements – e.g. insulating a bathroom wall with foam-backed plasterboard before tiling it.

We start from where people are – in imperfect existing houses. There is a widespread lack of understanding about how buildings behave. It is often assumed, for example, that a house is damp because water is coming in from the outside, so people treat the symptoms. In fact, most damp in houses is due to condensation on cold, non-breathable surfaces, and a lack of proper ventilation. If this is not properly understood and dealt with, the building may be damaged if the problems are allowed to continue over the long term. The easiest win of all is user control: turn it off, turn it down, maintain it and improve it. ”

For more practical advice and to find out the topics cover by this project see www.nakedgreenbuilders.com or for introductory courses to green building and ecorefurbishment see www.greenregister.org.uk

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