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Structural principles

The Building Regulations

The Building RegulationsThese are the mass of regulations that cover safety, health, welfare, convenience, energy efficiency etc. in the way buildings are constructed. Not to be confused with Planning consent (which is more to do with whether you can put up the building in the first place). See more on the regulations […]

Lammas eco village

summer 2011

The Lammas self build project at Tir y Gafel, Glandwr, Pembrokeshire, is Wales’ first collective initiative based on what is now the (TAN)6 national planning guidance for sustainable rural communities. (One Planet Development).

Planning permissionthe legal basis for being allowed to do some form of development such as building a house. (not […]

Retrofit

‘Under the Sun’, a Victorian terrace house in Birmingham is an outstanding example of bringing a fairly typical old building up to PassivhausSee more on the Passivhaus standard. The PassivHaus Institute has pioneered a standard for low energy buildings. It includes very low energy usage and ways of achieving this. The word is derived […]

Timber

January ’13

Advantages of timber

Constructing with FSCForest Stewardship Council (who accredit timber) see their database timber (or another accreditation organisation such as PEFCProgramme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. See their web site) is potentially one of the greenest ways of building for several reasons.

Timber itself captures and locks up CO² as […]

Windows

Green Building Store ULTRA

The supply chain for windows

If the UK is to meet the 2021 EPBDEnergy Performance of Buildings Directive. This is the EU directive that all new buildings shall be “Nearly Zero-Energy Buildings’ from 2021. standards then the window manufacturing industry will need to go through a minor revolution. Most companies […]

Aluminium

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 of […]

Designing with timber

timber house in the Field of Dreams, Findhorn FoundationThe Findhorn Foundation is a large community near Inverness. There is a strong emphasis on sustainable building.

designing with timber

Are the British inherently nervous of timber buildings? Does this go back to the Great Fire of London? Is this still valid considering how many […]

PVC

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 this […]

Insulation properties

A cork oak. The bark (cork) is stripped about every 8 years and regrows

The qualities of insulation types

Assuming that the question of designing in enough insulation into your self build project has been dealt with the question is about what kind of insulation materials to use. Here the issues are –

the […]

Cement and concrete

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 capacity […]

Building Materials

see also Aluminium Cement / woodwool boards Cement and concrete Hemp / lime MDF OSB Plasterboard Plywood PVC StrawBoard Timber Sustainability of building materials

This can have several slightly different meanings which are to do with:

Whether the material is actually running out or very rare (e.g. Cuban Mahogany) Whether the embodied energythe total amount […]

Saving energy

PassivhausSee more on the Passivhaus standard. The PassivHaus Institute has pioneered a standard for low energy buildings. It includes very low energy usage and ways of achieving this. The word is derived from the idea of buildings which are fundamentally low energy and passive solar heated rather than using extra gadgets to heat them. […]

Embodied Energy

The embodied energy in a house is the total energy required to build it. That includes the extraction, mining etc. of the raw materials, processing and manufacturing them and transporting them to the site and assembling them.

The embodied energy of materials can vary enormously depending on how you measure it, where it is located […]

Concrete blocks

Concrete blocks, though used widely, have the drawback of being very high in embodied energythe total amount of energy it takes to make a material (or a building). See more on embodied energy due to the cement they contain. They may also produce a wall which is too thick . Achieving PassivhausSee more on the […]

Brick

The green credentials for brick walls vary, with three main factors:

the embodied energythe total amount of energy it takes to make a material (or a building). See more on embodied energy depends on what sort of bricks are used the environmental policy of the manufacturer the effect on the wall design

The embodied energy […]

Hemp / Lime

Hempcrete is now an established building material in the UK. This is the re:centre at the University of Bradford

Hemp lime walls are a relatively new construction method to the UK although they have been around in mainland Europe for a couple of decades. Hempcrete, as it is generically known is a mixture of […]