Friday, 26 May 2017

Sustainable Housing – Summer 2013

Examining how bungalows and houses built from waste could be the future, plus a search for the elusive first green deal

SH summer 13 cover

On the Mauna Loa volcano on Hawaii sits a US government lab, which has been patiently measuring the atmosphere since 1958.

While the Today Programme hosted another debate last week about the validity of climate science because temperatures have not risen as fast as expected, last month the Hawaii lab recorded something a bit horrifying. It found the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had reached 400 parts per million. Scientists estimate it is about 2 to 4 million years since carbon dioxide levels were so high.

So what does this mean for housing? It should inject a fresh urgency into attempts to do two things: reduce the climate footprint of housing stock, and prepare tenants for a changing climate. It also only makes it more important that government policies such as the energy company obligation and the green deal succeed. The early signs on the latter aren’t good, as we report.

But it’s also important to remember climate is not the only potential disaster. Other issues, like the mountain of waste our consumer culture produces, are just as urgent. Here we profile architect Duncan Baker-Brown, who is tackling the issue by building a house entirely from waste materials. The science may be dire: but at least some housing pioneers are still plugging away.

Jess McCabe, editor, Sustainable Housing


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