The Future of Eco-Housing

WWF Scotland have confirmed that strong winds in Scotland this November has increased electricity generation from wind turbines by more than 40%, producing enough electricity to supply all domestic properties in the country. It also meant that November was the second highest month for power output from wind turbines behind January.

Scottish turbines provided approximately 1.2 MWh of electricity to the grid in November, enough to supply the electricity needs, on average, of 3.2 million homes (131% of homes in Scotland), which  is an increase of 42% on November 2014.

WWF Scotland’s director Lang Banks speaking from the climate talks in Paris said: “Thanks to a combination of increased capacity and stronger winds, output from turbines was up more than two-fifths compared to the same period last year – supplying power equivalent to the electrical needs of 3.2 million homes.

“As well as helping to power our homes and businesses, wind power is helping Scotland to avoid over a million tonnes of polluting carbon emissions every month.

“I’m currently at the UN climate talks spreading the word about Scotland’s world leading climate targets and the rapid progress we’re making on renewables.

“I hope that news of November’s renewable output will help inspire other countries to follow our lead. Doing so would help kick-start a renewables revolution that would help transform our ability to address the threat of global climate change.

“If Scotland wishes to continue to set an example to the world on addressing climate change then it cannot rest on its laurels.”

Dennis Robertson, MSP with the Scottish National Party, said: “As the world meets in Paris to agree an ambitious and legally-binding new climate deal, these impressive figures demonstrate how Scotland is showing the way.

“Scotland can continue to be a world leader when it comes to renewable energy – which can boost the economy, create jobs and protect our environment.”

With the Paris summit expected to agree upon new targets for carbon emission reduction it is reassuring to know that electricity generation from renewable sources such as wind are contributing towards reducing these emissions.

However if we are to succeed overall and bring our carbon emissions back to at least pre-1990 figures then  more new technologies must be promoted and more initiatives taken on. Plus current projects, even if they are successful should improved upon to become even more efficient.

One such example of this is a £240,000 four bedroom Passivhaus in Merseyside which has built from insulated masonry and concrete.

Eco-homes are nothing new (Passivhaus comes from a low energy design standard for German homes developed in the 1980s and 90s) however due to clever design and build techniques along with modern technologies such as LED lighting and an air source heat pipe the house runs on the equivalent of a 40W light bulb at a cost of £15 per year.

The home recently scooped a national award at the Buildings and Energy Efficiency Awards and owner Colin Usher stated that being honoured dispelled the myth that eco-homes are expensive and radically different.

Mr Usher, an architect and director at Liverpool based John McCall Architects designed the house for him and his wife to live in stated that the property was “very comfortable to live in and its appearance is not incongruous with surrounding houses.

“There is a seriously growing trend towards wanting to live more sustainably whilst reducing our energy performance and saving costs. We need more houses, yet we need to look at the design carefully and build them in a way that helps us meet our environmental objectives” he added.

The property has been designed in such a way that windows and solar panels on the roof receive the optimum amount of sunlight. All rooms have high ceilings and carefully positioned glass to let in the most natural light and heat.

The couple have lived in the property for two years and the cost of heating, lighting, hot water, and cooking £15 per year. Mr Usher concluded “This is a simple building and, in effect, runs on the same amount of power used by a 40W light bulb which is almost four times better than the Passivhaus standard it was targeting.”

According to the Passivhaus Trust Passivhaus buildings “provide a high level of occupant comfort while using very little energy for heating and cooling” and the properties feature “rigorous design and construction according to principles developed by the Passivhaus Institute in Germany.” In the UK, a property needs to include very high levels of insulation, airtight construction, a ventilation system with heat recovery and high-performance windows to achieve the Passivhaus standard.

The Passivhaus in Mersyside is great example of what can be achieved if existing ideas and principles are improved upon. A home which uses so little power will in turn emit hardly any carbon. There is nothing stopping projects like these being produced on a massive scale so that individuals can benefit from the developments and we can all benefit from the reduced carbon emissions.

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