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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
These two books are the perfect starting place to help you get to grips with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

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    • CommentAuthorGBP-Keith
    • CommentTimeNov 28th 2007 edited
    Here is the final story from Mike Hillard as we will publish it on 10th December. it is about his new 5,000 sq ft home near Stroud.

    The story creates as many questions as it answers so please feel free to discuss them here and I'm sure the author will be glad to answer them. I may well publish some of the comments especially if they help clarify or even rebutt the claims made.

    Here at the office of GBmag, we have done our best to ensure that the author has evidence to back up his claims but as the story makes clear, he says that some evidence is confidential.

    It is our policy to allow everyone to have a voice as it aids discussion and the dissemination of information. We try not restrict authors to 'our own line'. I for one disagree almost entirely with Mikes claims regarding PV power and Biomass heating.

    ''close to being very airtight''?
    • CommentTimeNov 29th 2007
    In this bbc article he claims £20 per annum and in your story its £60 per annum for heating.
    So which is correct, only a factor of three difference. http://www.bbc.co.uk/gloucestershire/content/articles/2005/06/21/ecohouse_feature.shtml

    There is actually a bit more information in the bbc article and it appears that space heating is entirely solar distributed by his 2.5w passive system.
    There is no mention of back up heating or active heat storage so how does he heat the place on a dull windy winter evening when the sun has'nt been out for days.
    It is also slightly worrying that in August it was hotter inside than outside at all times in the day. Even though it was fully ventilated from 8.50AM. It sounds to me that his design inspiration was something of a shot in the dark.

    DHW is solar - there is no mention of backup systems and I dont know any solar system that provides an adequate supply of dhw throughout the year.

    I would also question why an eco house needs to have a floor area of 5000sq ft. That is vast and there is not much eco in building a house that big.

    My guess is that either the figures for heating costs are fiction or they low because its too cold to occupy and is in fact empty.
    • CommentAuthorandytk
    • CommentTimeNov 29th 2007
    Nigel, I agree with you on this one.

    Some poor bugger is going to have to go in and sort out the heating and probably summer A/C too, in order to make it habitable.

    • CommentAuthorGBP-Keith
    • CommentTimeNov 29th 2007
    Oh by the way. Mike pulled down a house to build this one!
    • CommentTimeNov 29th 2007
    I think good on him for building what he believes is the way to go in that location!

    What I do not understand why he invested so much money into building without research data, i.e. a computer model (dynamic simulation software) of the concept before it was built? That way you can test before and after!
    The author's general comments seem well-informed. I'm not so sure about the economics.

    It may come as a surprise to many readers that the previous generation of enthusiastic architects and engineers analysed all these topics, ignited by the 1974 oil crisis, and a lot of creative building ensued. The conclusions are unchanged and bear emphasising again; pretty much in order of priority:

    1. When Asian countries are building a new fossil-fuelled mega power station every 3 days, the world cannot be saved by small scale self-sufficiency freaks in the west. The urgency of the timescale demands a crash programme of nuclear power stations throughout the world. At worst this will provide time for other alternatives such as wave power are developed.

    2. The greenest solution to domestic comfort is to knit sheep's wool into clothing and wear it.

    3. Human behaviour and social patterns are the greatest waste of energy, of which simply leaving doors open is probably the worst.

    4. Bizarre 'alternative' solutions can make little overall impact as they are utterly impracticable for massed urban society.

    5. Solar heating has no cost-effective role in domestic heating at these latitudes.

    6. High insulation + low thermal mass is generally energy efficient in winter but creates over-heating and need for air con in summer

    7. Wood-burning is a polluting, inefficient and impracticable - peasants excepted.

    8. Heat pumps are a valuable means of reversing the thermodynamic penalties of electricity generation in power stations. Electricity can only be efficiently generated on any scale in large power plants, which also have the great advantage of centralising efficient management and any consequent pollution and thus enabling its control. Transmission losses are relatively tiny, and heat pumps enable the full calorific value of the original fuel to be captured at a remote location.

    9. Wind power can only be a marginal contributor to electricity generation in an advanced economy, even in countries with high wind resources, and it is very poor investment as a means of reducing carbon emissions.

    10. Rain harvesting/sewage disposal raises both public health and energy considerations. Broadly speaking, the Victorians got it right (they usually did). In urban society's ublic water supplies and sewage disposal are essential.
    Points 1 to 10 above are largely nonsense, but I haven't the energy to explain why. Peasant indeed! Huh!
    I disagree with point 8.

    It would be more efficient to generate the electricity in the home if the fuel can be carried there (e.g. gas).
    If you're going to use the fuel to produce heat rather than more high-class work, it's clearly going to be much more efficient to run the heat pump directly on the fuel on site.
    • CommentAuthorGBP-Keith
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2007
    If we all installed heat pumps on Funcrusher's logic where would we be then? Scotland is already beginning to pay the price from widespread installation of these things. It leads to a shortage of electricity which should be reserved for more important tasks than heating. I'll believe the heat pump fairytale that Funcrusher is peddling when I can run my telly or my computer on one?
    • CommentAuthorTuna
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2007
    funcrusher's views are exactly that, just views. If there was one 'correct' way of building, that could be demonstrated to be more efficient than any other, there wouldn't be the huge industry of alternative building techniques and innovative new technologies we see today. The self build and green magazines wouldn't be spending every issue exploring different options. Government legislation would be far, far simpler. In short, a most of us would be building exactly the same houses.
    • CommentAuthorjon
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2007
    Point 1: Why do you think wavepower will prove to be better than windpower funcrusher?

    Point 4: Bizarre solutions should be encouraged, particularly from SMEs, in the event that one of them provides a useful solution. Most are likely to fail. Point 5, for instance may be negated by a bizarre solution: There is sufficient energy available if a low cost garnering and storage system could be developed.

    Point 6 sounds correct unless a low mass solution has some form of external access to thermal mass: Wouldn't this be provided, potentially by point 8?

    Point 8 relies on the forward assumption that Nuclear power, or some other form of electrical generation is all that will remain. This may be correct but is a built-in assumption.

    Have you commented on the Government's proposals as they have come up? They occasionally get it very wrong and need informed opinion to stop the wrong path being taken.
    • CommentAuthormangofire
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2007
    I think the evidence of telemetry put into the building is potentially very useful. But sadly lessons learnt from this project will only be of value if these metrics are publicised along with other crucial details about the construction e.g. results of an air-tightness test, details of any additional heat sources used (apart from solar gain) and whether the house is occupied during periods that metrics are recorded. I'm disheartened by the commercial sensitivity that surrounds this. Without more openness about the project, opinions expressed remain just opinions and the only progress made is in the production of hot air.

    • CommentAuthorbiffvernon
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2007
    Dunno about telemetry and metrics but my wife, who definitely must be obeyed, insists I light the fire before she gets in from work tonight :(
    It would be very interesting to hear comments here from Mike Hillard. Perhaps inviting him to visit this topic would be a good move.
    His email address is given at the end of the BBC article mentioned in Nigel's posting
    • CommentAuthorbobirving
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2008
    Presumably funcrusher's new nuclear power stations will just arrive miraculously with no effort at all, just like the new one in Finland that's 2 years behind schedule after 2 years work?
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