How is eco-friendly architecture developing in the UK?
UK architects and developers have embraced eco-friendly designs with renewed vigour. Marked by big advances that have proved to be economically and environmentally advantageous to property owners, architects continue to deploy eco-friendly strategies that include appealing features to attract investors and workers.
Today’s generation is environmentally responsible. Workers enjoy working and living in sustainable environments. As in all things property, demand affects the market and has an impact on value. Properties that are sustainable have made significant gains in value and thus are in greater demand than traditionally constructed properties.
What is Eco-Friendly Architecture?
Eco-friendly is practical and efficient. Some of the UK’s most eco-friendly projects include recycled building materials, alternative energy sources and many other technologies. It is safe to say that as technology advances, so do eco-friendly architectural trends.
In 2007, the Dalby Forest visitor centre in North Yorkshire received the Prime Minister’s Britain’s Better Public Building award. The architect’s “uncompromising commitment to sustainability” was cited.
The Dalby Forest centre is constructed with recycled yoghurt pots, recycled tyres and recycled phones that were used to build the reception desk. The electric source is photovoltaic panels and a micro wind turbine. Toilets are flushed with rainwater obtained with a harvesting tank that accumulated rainwater. Before 2007, this architecture might have shocked the private sector but that is no longer the case.
Eco-friendly In Residential Design
Architects are deploying eco-friendly elements in their residential designs. However, an earth-sheltered social housing scheme in Honingham, Norfolk, is ahead of the game. The futuristic sustainable ideas incorporated sets a high standard for sustainability that has been remarkably implemented in other group housing designs.
The Honingham scheme includes unconventional heating and cooling that is successfully yielding zero carbon emissions. Houses have north, west and east walls that are covered by an earth mound. The south side is the only exposure to heat and natural light. The home’s light “comes through the full-length windows.” The home remains a comfortable 22 degrees celsius throughout the winter. This is eco-friendly innovation at work!
The Pedders Way housing association deserves much credit for their creative concept and their willingness to incorporate these eco-friendly concepts in the final design. Now that the project has been in use for more than five years, it is safe to say that innovation works when it comes to eco-friendly architecture. The general public may be skeptical but like all things sustainable, progress is measured one structure at a time.
The National Trust
We could predict that the National Trust would embrace sustainable architecture. But, the National Trust headquarters in Swindon exceeds all expectations. The building has registered 65 percent fewer carbon emissions than similar buildings.
The use of photovoltaic panels on the roof provide 30 percent of the annual electricity used by the building.
However, architects paid special attention to the building materials. PVC-free linoleum and water based paints were used for construction projects. The building’s carpets are made from wool which was gathered from the National Trust’s flocks of Hedwick sheep. Creativity goes to another level with the ventilation pipes which are built of recycled beer cans.
The lesson that the National Trust Swindon has demonstrated is that if the architect and developer are committed, their efforts will be recognised. The National Trust spends less on electricity and less on heat and cooling that ever.
BowZed, Bow in East London
Architect Bill Dunster has established himself as a force in eco-friendly architectural design. His work at BowZed, Bow in East London raised the bar for similar projects. The projects consists of four flats and has been so successful that energy czars Ruth Kelly and Gordon Brown visited the project to observe its performance.
BowZed is one of Britain’s most sustainable buildings. No details were spared in the design and goal of achieving zero-fossil fuel emissions for the four flats. Occupants report 40 percent of their energy is derived from the photovoltaic panels and another 50 percent from a micro wind turbine which is mounted on the stair tower.
The hot water for the apartment is furnished courtesy of a boiler that burns wood pellets, Last year, three tonnes of pellets provided sufficient hot water for the residents of all four units.
The model apartment sold quickly for £275,000, 15 percent more than similar apartments. Analysts and architects interpreted this to mean that there is strong demand for eco-friendly designs.
Eco-friendly architecture is dominating the public sector scene in the UK. We can find many educational-based properties that have adopted new designs that respect the environment and seek to shrink their carbon footprint. Even if these buildings cost a bit more to construct, they are energy efficient and over the life of the building more than compensate for the added construction expense of an eco-friendly design by reducing or eliminating energy costs. We can look for more and more eco-friendly architectural site in the UK in the future.
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