Environmentally friendly homes need not be 'wacky, on-the-fringe'
designs, members of Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce &
Industry's construction sector were told on 16 April.
At a seminar sponsored by English
Partnerships, the government's regeneration and development agency,
almost 100 managers from companies involved in design and construction
heard local experts explain how simple techniques could cut the
environmental impact of homes.
Almost half the energy used in the UK
is used in the heating, lighting and operation of homes and other
buildings, Matt Grace of engineers Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick told the
A further one-quarter of UK energy
production is used by transport, much of which is involved in moving
people and goods between buildings - so the siting of buildings can
have a further dramatic effect on total energy use.
"Taken together, these energy
uses are making a major contribution to environmental problems such as
global warming," Mr Grace said.
John Thornberry of architects Ruddle
Wilkinson gave examples of simple techniques which could be used in
the design and construction of buildings to reduce their environmental
impact and, in particular, to cut their energy use.
"Affordable, sustainable design
need not be high technology," he told the meeting. "It is
not wacky, on-the-fringe design but in the mainstream of construction.
Sustainable design can be affordable. It has more to do with an
approach and an attitude of mind by building designers and users than
it has to do with any new technology."
New technology can have a role to
play, however, as Dominic Burbridge of solar energy company Solar
Century told the meeting.
He explained how recent advances in
photovoltaics mean that solar cells can be built into the structure of
a building to generate electricity. When included as part of modern
house designs they can produce more power than the house uses,
allowing the householder to actually sell electricity back to the
local electricity company.
He produced test results from UK
houses which showed that even on cloudy days solar cells on
north-facing roofs generate substantial amounts of electricity.
Paul Griffiths of English
Partnerships, which helped to fund the event, said: "English
Partnerships has a role to play in encouraging best practice in design
and construction. The seminar has helped to show that environmentally
friendly design need not be difficult or expensive."
The seminar was chaired by Roger
Almond of French Kier Anglia Ltd, chairman of the Chamber's