Straw board is made from waste straw with usually about 2% MDI adhesive binder. In the past the reputation of straw board has suffered mainly due to people trying to skimp on the thickness, a bit like with hardboard. It can make for very economical internal surface linings with good thermal [...]
Where can I buy recycled plastic sheet made from kids wellies? At Smile Plastics of course
The world of suppliers to the building industry is a very mixed bag varying from the excellent to the appalling. When you are purchasing building materials it is of course good to go in with a positive [...]
Parana pine, timber much used in staircase construction
In terms of embodied energythe total amount of energy it takes to make a material (or a building). See more on embodied energythe total amount of energy it takes to make a material (or a building). See more on embodied energy the use of timber in staircases is far better than metal. However the timber should be sustainably sourced and be FSCForest Stewardship Council [...]
Many of the builders merchants are a bit coy about publishing their prices, partly because of their obscure discount policies but here are a few price guides for building materials from suppliers on the internet. This may help with pricing up smaller jobs. With larger jobs you may be able to negotiate discounts.
Sourcing sustainably produced timber and manufactured timber building products requires checking the following -
Was the timber sustainably grown? How far has it travelled? Does it contain chemicals such as adhesives or timber treatment?
The FSCForest Stewardship Council (who accredit timber) Woodmark or the PEFCProgramme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. [...]
The main types of walls
Regardless of the type of wall construction, all walls have certain functions to fulfil and certain challenges to contend with. From a green perspective, three of the most important aspects of walls are their insulation values, the embodied energythe total amount of energy it takes to make a material [...]
Aluminium tends to be used as a waterproof barrier in buildings because of the slow rate at which it oxidises (rusts). It can be treated to stay nice and shiny for a decade or two and can also be colour coated to last quite well. It’s other attraction in building work is the ease [...]
Part composted MDFMedium Density Fibreboard ready to be spread on farm land
stability, workability and low embodied energythe total amount of energy it takes to make a material (or a building). See more on embodied energythe total amount of energy it takes to make a material (or a building). See more on embodied energy
Made from wood fibre which is heavily compressed (in spite of it being called Medium Density [...]
On the Hill of Bandodle, Aberdeenshire, stands a beautiful timber frame house designed by architect Genevieve Jones for her family. Incorporating high levels of insulation (in the form of 350mm of shoddy obtained from Elgin woolen mill) and mainly locally sourced materials, Larch, Douglas fir and Caithness slate, the house also has [...]
Hedgehog Self Build Co-op, Hogs Edge, Brighton
One of Brighton’s examples of community self build which started in the late 1990s, this development of ten timber frame houses is based on the Walter SegalThe architect who devised a simple timber frame self build system (often simply known as ‘Segal self build’. see more [...]
A very interesting terrace of three houses, on a curved road junction, has recently been completed in this Somerset village.
Some of the main features of the design are:
Very high insulation levels provided by insulating concrete forms (ICF) with added exterior face insulation Structural insulated panel (SIP) roofs Eco-slab ground floors and upper [...]
PVC is a difficult subject because the criticisms have come from several distinct directions
those who find the chemistry of producing PVC dangerous. GreenPeace has campaigned long and hard on this issue for two reasons – PVC is oil based and therefore dangerous for several reasons it involves shipping oil around the world and [...]
There are several problems with cement
the huge amount of energy which goes into making it because of the high temperatures needed in the kilns. (However it is worth noting that if you are designing high thermal massthis is about how much heat something can absorb – so it involves its specific heat [...]
Oriented strand board is an excellent alternative to plywood provided it is woodmarked and sourced as locally as possible
Greenpeace have recently come out with a report about how unsustainable much of the plywood is that is imported into the UK, and how OSBOriented Strand Board is an excellent alternative. Below is an extract showing where [...]
Plasterboard is showing up as something of a problem for eventual disposal because of the high levels of sulphate. In England and Wales, since the 1st of April 2009, high sulphate wastes sent to landfill must go to a ‘high sulphate monocell’ specifically designed for sulphate wastes (Check with your local waste and recycling facility).
the Forth Bridge, a symbol of constant maintenance. (however the latest paints claim to last longer)
The ecological cost of constantly repairing and maintaining houses is enormous and it makes sense from all angles to build with a view to low maintenance. At the most basic level it means you have more money to [...]
‘Energy use’ is usually associated with how much energy is used to construct a new building. However, this is only part of the story. Most buildings get altered and repaired and redecorated a considerable number of times during their lifetime and taken to an extreme, some houses are constantly having ‘makeovers’. This can vastly [...]
The Findhorn FoundationThe Findhorn FoundationThe Findhorn Foundation is a large community near Inverness. There is a strong emphasis on sustainable building and living. is a large community near Inverness. There is a strong emphasis on sustainable building and living. near Fores in the North East of Scotland has a couple of interesting areas of eco-housing and a whole approach to living lightly on the earth including 750kW of electrical energy from [...]
Womersleys do a series of very useful and practical one day courses covering historic building refurbishment & eco-friendly new build. Womersleys specialise in traditional mortars, renders, plasters and eco paints but they also cover a broader range of eco-build issues.
Developing Skills put on a variety of self build courses in conjunction [...]
Various types of pollution will occur at the three stages of a building’s life. The degree of pollution at each stage can be minimised by good design.
During construction there will be five main sources of pollution (including indirect CO2Carbon dioxide is a gas which is given off when carbon based materials such [...]
See the government web site on Building RegulationsThese are the legal regulations which govern how a house is constructed. (not to be confused with Planning Permission which is about whether you are allowed to build the house at all or what it might look like) see Building Regulations)
Building Regulations deal with whether the building is built properly and is safe and energy efficient etc. more+/-»
They are not to be confused with Planning Consentthe legal basis for being allowed to do some form of development such as building a house. (not to [...]