Posted on May 1st, 2014
Jim Allen | E&M West
Working with water is a challenge wherever you are. Balancing human need for supply on the one hand, and safety and security on the other are common concerns, although the severity of the challenge and the particular focus will vary.
In the UK recent experiences with extreme weather events in all corners of the country have focussed attention on flood risk. Existing provision for drainage and flood defence was tested and found wanting, having suffered years of limited investment and frankly neglect.
Flood management is complex, with responsibilties split between local and national...
Posted in Features, General News, Recommended, Sustainable Development, Water
Posted on April 1st, 2014
Cora Kwiatkowski | Stride Treglown
Architects are continuously on the look-out for the better insulation, the paint with no solvents, the more sustainable timber systems, and the new state of the art material. But natural light? We don't give it the special attention it deserves, although it is a very special building material, is readily available, not owned by individuals or countries - and it is free.
In 1903 Professor Niels Finsen discovered that direct sunlight can heal tuberculosis. A few years later, the social housing revolution in Berlin, Vienna and Stuttgart (building with more ‘Licht und Luft’ – light...
Posted in Features, General News, Recommended, Sustainable Development
Posted on March 1st, 2014
Cath Hassell | ech2o consultants
I often say that, at its core, harvesting rainwater is beautifully simple. I would say that the exact opposite applies to recycling greywater for use back in a building. Waste water from baths, showers and wash basins has a high organic load which starts to deteriorate after 24 hours. There are different methods of treating greywater – biological, chemical, mechanical, or a mixture. All work, but the withdrawal of two of the main system suppliers from the UK market in 2012, (the Ecoplay and the smaller Pontos Aquacycle units) shows the difficulty...
Posted in Carbon emissions, Case Studies, Low and Zero Carbon Technologies, Recommended, Retrofit, Sustainable Development, Water
Posted on January 1st, 2014
Jillian Mitchell | Project Logistics Architecture
In May 2013, changes to the limits and process for building without the need for planning approval came into force, amidst much criticism amongst professionals and politicians alike. Media headlines heralded rear extensions at double the sizes in previous PD, but left out much of the complex matrix of Parts and Classes which determine if planning approval is required, and made very little mention of the neighbour consultation process required, if an approval is to not be triggered. See here for a technical explanation of the changes: ...
Posted in Building envelope, Carbon emissions, Features, Legislation, Recommended, Retrofit, Sustainable Development
Posted on December 1st, 2013
Thomas Vazakas | RPS Health, Safety and Environment
The much anticipated Part L 2013 which was due to come into force in October 2013, following consultation that began in January 2013, was finally officially launched at the beginning of October During the launch it was promised that the Approved Documents and beta versions of the SAP and SBEM software would be issued within weeks. However it took until the 25th November before Approved Documents L1A and L2A were released and there is still no confirmed release date for the Approved Documents for existing buildings. Meanwhile the test version of SBEM software is due to be...
Posted in Building envelope, Carbon emissions, Legislation, Recommended, Sustainable Development
Posted on November 1st, 2013
There is no doubt that the PassivHaus standard delivers very low energy buildings. It delivers on comfort and air quality as well, and post-occupancy surveys back this up time after time. What it does not guarantee is aesthetic quality or innovation in materials – that is up to the architect. Among my colleagues, PH buildings are criticised for their stripped-down, boxy appearance. Form factor (surface areas/floor area) suggests a cube as the starting point for a building design – spheres being out of fashion) and some designs do not progress beyond strict utility.
I saw the expression “...
Posted in Building envelope, Carbon emissions, Low and Zero Carbon Technologies, Recommended, Sustainable Development
Posted on October 1st, 2013
Lucy Pedler | Director of The Green Register | The Green Register
The UK construction industry finally has the opportunity to comment on the Housing Standards Review (HSR), this being one of the outcomes of the Governments’ Red Tape Challenge (www.redtapechallenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/building-regulations-and-related-legislation).
The Government’s premise is that one of the reasons activity in the construction industry has slowed down is the number of codes, standards and regulations – sometimes...
Posted on September 1st, 2013
Jillian Mitchell |Managing Director | Project Logistics Architecture Limited
I am rarely commissioned by clients who genuinely wish to save the planet or reduce their carbon footprint; I am, conversely, most often commissioned by clients who wish to reduce the amount of money they spend on their energy bills. To me, the two can be one-and-the-same, which I reflect in my design approach, and which is TGR’s mantra: improve insulation and air-tightness, and control ventilation. It can be difficult, however, to find a way of helping clients understand a direct relationship between insulation thickness and a reduction...
Posted on August 1st, 2013
Cath Hassell | ech2o consultants
As rumours swirl around about the demise of the Code for Sustainable Homes, surely now is the time for the Government to take a step back from its ill-advised insistence on forcing rainwater harvesting systems into new dwellings and instead start to incentivise the decoupling of rainwater downpipes from existing buildings.
At its core rainwater harvesting is beautifully simple. You collect rainwater from a clean surface (i.e. a hard roof), filter, store and reuse. Practiced for centuries, rainwater is still used by millions of people around the world who don’t have access to a mains water supply...