Sustainable Building

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Sustainable Building, Development and ECO Construction Techniques at S...

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Welcome to Sustainable Build, a knowledgeable UK resource dedicated to a topic which is becoming ever more important to the future of our planet. These days, most people know the likely future consequences of climate change and global warming. Global temperatures continue to rise and we’ve already seen the impact of changing weather and seasons. Drought is an increasing problem which is leading to falling crop yields and an increase in diseases such as malaria in countries overseas. Water is becoming ever more precious and even in the UK, plants and animals are already being affected by changes in weather patterns and loss of habitats. Of course we’re not saying that building your new home the eco-friendly way will reduce global warming. We all know there is no quick fix to the climate change problem - but sustainable building is just one of the many ways in which we can do our bit. Sustainable Build is suitable for everyone – whether you are planning a totally new building focusing on sustainable materials and renewable power or you just want to try to introduce some sustainability into your present home or garden.

1. What exactly is Sustainable Build?
In truth, the term sustainable build (or green construction) means different things to different people. Some people think that by simply building a new house which uses renewable power, they have created a ‘sustainable’ building. But of course, like most things in life, the truth is just a little more complicated. To truly encompass sustainable build, you would need to consider everything from the building’s location and environmental impact to the materials used and the power installed. And it doesn’t end there – you would have to consider its impact right through to end of life and the environmental degradation it could cause when it is eventually demolished. In between those two definitions is the middle ground which most people regard as reasonable sustainable building. That is, one which considers, as far as possible, the environmental impact of a development. This involves a whole host of decisions such as where to build, what to build with and whether you can incorporate at least some renewable energy.

2. What Are the Benefits of Sustainable Build?
Individual projects can return vastly different environmental (and financial) results. For example, if you build a house extension using reclaimed materials and then ensure it is well insulated and powered by solar energy you will see both environmental and financial benefits by way of less environmental damage and lower running costs. Some sustainable build projects, however, lead to only environmental benefits since the financial “pay-back” time of a particular material or project is such that going the sustainable route costs you more

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7/28/2011 11:05 PM

Sustainable Building, Development and ECO Construction Techniques at S...

http://www.sustainablebuild.co.uk/

in financial terms. Of course, if finance isn’t an issue then this will be well worth it since at least the planet will be better off!

3. Where to Start with Sustainable Building
New developments of one type or another are springing up in the UK on an almost daily basis. Most large-scale building companies can afford to employ sustainable build experts to guide them through the maze of materials and the pros and cons of different construction routes. At the other end of the spectrum, however, are the majority of people living in a traditional house built many years ago and lacking any real sustainability credentials. But that’s not to say that we can’t all play our part – if everyone does just a little, the end results will be huge. For example, you can ensure that you think sustainability when you plan a new kitchen, decide its time for a new outdoor surface or simply want to give your living room a lick of paint.

4. Finance - A Key Factor
Virtually all new build projects, along with major alterations, usually depend on finance. There are many different things to consider such as green mortgages or loans and grants which may be available for green developments. There are also energy efficiency grants as well as a relatively new development to encourage people to invest in renewable energy. This allows you to profit from selling excess power from micro generation to power companies through Feed-In Tariffs (FITs).

5. The Importance of Location
Location is a very important aspect of Sustainable Building. Are you planning to build on a Greenfield or Brownfield site or will the development threaten local wildlife and plants? Even if it doesn’t pose an obvious threat to wildlife, the implications of a large scale commercial development in an area that already suffers from seasonal flooding, could be dire. Why? When a building covers a sizeable piece of land and then adjacent land is taken up with concrete parking and new access roads, there is substantially less uncovered land in the area to absorb rainwater or to cope with seasonal overflow from a stream or river nearby. In fact, the dangers of non-absorbent surfacing are so serious that the government has introduced new planning rules on outdoor surfacing which affect most householders planning changes in their gardens.

6. Think Carefully about Construction Methods
There are many possibilities when it comes to construction, depending on your project. Have you thought about building a house into the hillside (brilliantly insulated), using the old English method of cob building or even straw bales – an ancient technique with many advantages? If you want something a little less out-ofthe-ordinary then you should at least consider using reclaimed timber and bricks. Then, of course, there is the stone versus brick argument and a huge range of choices when it comes to glazing, flooring and power. It’s also worth remembering that the most sustainable option might turn out to be NOT to build at all – but to instead totally refurbish an existing building.

7. Sourcing Your Materials
Are there any right or wrong building materials or do they all have their place depending on the location and purpose of the building? Timber, for example, is becoming increasingly popular but you need to ensure it is

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7/28/2011 11:05 PM

Sustainable Building, Development and ECO Construction Techniques at S...

http://www.sustainablebuild.co.uk/

from a sustainable source. These days, many people see the worth in building with bricks from a demolition project because they are readily available and re-using materials is even better than recycling. It’s also important to consider the impact of your choice of supplier. By choosing a local supplier, you will avoid the carbon emissions associated with long distance haulage and you will also be contributing to the local economy. When planning something new, there’s no substitute for seeing how an expert does it. Thanks to our video guides, you can now watch how the experts undertake traditional lime plastering or lime pointing.

8. Consider the Power Options
While most homes in the UK are powered by traditional mains electricity and gas, there are many different options including ‘green’ energy suppliers, solar power for heating and/or water and even wind or water power depending on your location. Increasing numbers of people are also now looking at alternatives such as a ground source heat pump or systems that run on used cooking oil. Alongside power, you also need to pay close attention to insulation because this can both reduce consumption and drive down your power bills. Some people are keen to go as far as possible in minimising the use of natural resources such as water and incorporate a variety of projects, such as composting toilets. There really is no limit to the possibilities!

9.....And Finally
Once your project is finished, you want to make sure that you are living in a healthy home so you should consider eco-friendly paints and check out our guide to indoor pollutants which can cause health problems for asthmatics or those living with allergies. If it’s inspiration you are looking for, then we are adding new case studies regularly so you can learn from other successful projects. You can also take advantage of our free newsletter which keeps you up-to-date with new articles and favourite topics. Last but not least, we don’t want to be simply talking at you. We’d love to hear about your own ideas and projects so that other readers can share your knowledge or experience. Visit our Facebook group to post ideas, ask questions of like-minded people and keep up-to-date with a rapidly changing topic.

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7/28/2011 11:05 PM

Pollution From Construction - Sustainable Build

http://www.sustainablebuild.co.uk/PollutionFromConstruction.html

Home > Construction Methods > Pollution From Construction

Author: Jennifer Gray - Updated: 1 October 2010

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The construction industry is a major source of pollution, responsible for around 4% of particulate emissions, more water pollution incidents than any other industry, and thousands of noise complaints every year. Although construction activities also pollute the soil, the main areas of concern are: air, water and noise pollution.

Air Pollution
Construction activities that contribute to air pollution include: land clearing, operation of diesel engines, demolition, burning, and working with toxic materials. All construction sites generate high levels of dust (typically from concrete, cement, wood, stone, silica) and this can carry for large distances over a long period of time. Construction dust is classified as PM10 - particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter, invisible to the naked eye. Research has shown that PM10 penetrate deeply into the lungs and cause a wide range of health problems including respiratory illness, asthma, bronchitis and even cancer. Another major source of PM10 on construction sites comes from the diesel engine exhausts of vehicles and heavy equipment. This is known as diesel particulate matter (DPM) and consists of soot, sulphates and silicates, all of which readily combine with other toxins in the atmosphere, increasing the health risks of particle inhalation. Diesel is also responsible for emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide. Noxious vapours from oils, glues, thinners, paints, treated woods, plastics, cleaners and other hazardous chemicals that are widely used on construction sites, also contribute to air pollution.

Water Pollution
Sources of water pollution on building sites include: diesel and oil; paint, solvents, cleaners and other harmful chemicals; and construction debris and dirt. When land is cleared it causes soil erosion that leads to silt-bearing run-off and sediment pollution. Silt and soil that runs into natural waterways turns them turbid, which restricts sunlight filtration and destroys aquatic life. Surface water run-off also carries other pollutants from the site, such as diesel and oil, toxic chemicals, and building materials like cement. When these substances get into waterways they poison water life and any animal that drinks from them. Pollutants on construction sites can also soak into the groundwater, a source of human drinking water. Once contaminated, groundwater is much more difficult to treat than surface water.

Noise Pollution
Construction sites produce a lot of noise, mainly from vehicles, heavy equipment and machinery, but also from people shouting and radios turned up too loud. Excessive noise is not only annoying and

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7/28/2011 11:10 PM

Pollution From Construction - Sustainable Build

http://www.sustainablebuild.co.uk/PollutionFromConstruction.html

distracting, but can lead to hearing loss, high blood pressure, sleep disturbance and extreme stress. Research has shown that high noise levels disturb the natural cycles of animals and reduces their usable habitat.

Measures to Prevent Pollution
Good construction site practice can help to control and prevent pollution. The first step is to prepare environmental risk assessments for all construction activities and materials likely to cause pollution. Specific measures can then be taken to mitigate these risks: To prevent erosion and run-off, minimise land disturbance and leave maximum vegetation cover. Control dust through fine water sprays used to dampen down the site. Screen the whole site to stop dust spreading, or alternatively, place fine mesh screening close to the dust source. Cover skips and trucks loaded with construction materials and continually damp down with low levels of water. Cover piles of building materials like cement, sand and other powders, regularly inspect for spillages, and locate them where they will not be washed into waterways or drainage areas. Use non-toxic paints, solvents and other hazardous materials wherever possible Segregate, tightly cover and monitor toxic substances to prevent spills and possible site contamination. Cover up and protect all drains on site . Collect any wastewater generated from site activities in settlement tanks, screen, discharge the clean water, and dispose of remaining sludge according to environmental regulations. Use low sulphur diesel oil in all vehicle and equipment engines, and incorporate the latest specifications of particulate filters and catalytic converters. No burning of materials on site. Reduce noise pollution through careful handling of materials; modern, quiet power tools, equipment and generators; low impact technologies; and wall structures as sound shields.

Pressure to Clean Up
The UK Environment Agency and other government bodies are putting increasing pressure on construction companies to reduce pollution and conform to environmental regulations. In the past the pollution fines have been low and environmental regulations slack, and it could have been perceived as cheaper to pollute than to prevent pollution. This situation is now changing, and enforcement of environmental regulations is not only very expensive but can be irreversibly damaging to the reputation of a firm. Measures to reduce and control pollution are relatively inexpensive and cost-effective, and the construction industry needs to incorporate these into an environmental management strategy. By employing these practices, the construction industry is well positioned to clean up its act.

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7/28/2011 11:10 PM

Reclaimed Materials - Sustainable Build

http://www.sustainablebuild.co.uk/ReclaimedMaterials.html

Home > Construction Methods > Reclaimed Materials

Author: Jennifer Gray - Updated: 11 March 2010

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The construction industry is under increasing pressure to become sustainable. One way to address this is through the use of reclaimed materials. Reclaimed materials are those that have been previously used in a building or project, and which are then re-used in another project. The materials might be altered, re-sized, refinished, or adapted, but they are not reprocessed in any way, and remain in their original form. Materials that have been reprocessed and reused in the building industry are referred to as recycled materials. Examples of materials that can be reclaimed include: bricks, slate roofing, ceramic tiles, fireplaces, doors, window frames, glass panels, metal fixtures and fittings, stairs, cobbled stones, steel sections and timber. A reclaimed material is often adapted for a different use, for example a roof beam might be used as a mantelpiece. This is known as re-purposing.

Why Reclaim?
The building industry has a massive impact on the environment in terms of energy consumption, use of natural resources, pollution and waste. Every year in the UK, construction materials account for around: 6 tonnes of materials per person, 122 million tonnes of waste (1/3 of total UK waste) and 18% of carbon dioxide emissions, a major contributor to global climate change. On top of this, the embodied costs associated with the extraction, production, manufacture and transportation of building materials are immense. Using reclaimed materials can significantly reduce these environmental impacts, and save up to 95% of the embodied costs by preventing unnecessary production of new materials, and reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill.

Where to Find Materials
The best place to source reclaimed materials is direct from a demolition or re-modelling project. Many of these projects carefully dismantle buildings in such a way that their materials can be sold and re-used. In the building trade this is known as deconstruction. Reclaimed materials can also be sourced from salvage centres, reclamation yards and other specialist companies, who buy and sell materials that they have salvaged themselves from demolished sites. There are hundreds of salvage companies, some which deal only in high-end architectural materials, and others that are more like junkyards. Good quality, rare and heritage materials can be gleamed from salvage suppliers, and while purchasing can be more expensive than those sourced direct from a demolition site, there is a much wider choice of materials available on demand.

An Untapped Market
Although there are substantial environmental benefits to using reclaimed materials, the market is virtually untapped. At the moment, only 1% of reclaimed materials are used in new building projects, a percentage that should really be higher. One of the barriers has been a lack of information about

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7/28/2011 11:11 PM

Reclaimed Materials - Sustainable Build

http://www.sustainablebuild.co.uk/ReclaimedMaterials.html

sourcing and using the materials in design and development - including knowledge of specifications, standards, legislation and performance. But there are economic barriers too, including the cost of extraction in deconstruction, the limited flexibility of reclaimed materials, and problems of storing and double handling of materials between sites. In addition, medium to large building projects cannot take advantage of the reclamation industry, because the salvage supply chain is not yet equipped to deal with large orders.

Reclamation in Sustainable Development
Ongoing rapid development means that many historic buildings are being demolished to make way for new affordable housing and commercial space. Redirecting building materials from the waste stream of this process, and reusing them in other nearby projects is a critical component of sustainable development. There is a huge amount of construction waste, and the potential to reuse this to reduce landfill and new materials is enormous. When reclaimed materials are secured from an existing building site, the environmental impact is virtually zero. Even when they are sourced from far away, reclaimed materials are still the most environmentally friendly option for supplying materials to the building industry.

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Reducing and Managing Waste

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7/28/2011 11:11 PM

Stone vs Brick - Sustainable Build

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Home > Construction Methods > Stone vs Brick

Author: James Murray-White - Updated: 15 July 2010

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Stone is a beautiful natural material that can be cut to any size, and will enhance the exterior or interior of any building. A stone-clad building has a natural elegance to it, that gives it a timeless quality. Brick can be made to any shape and most sizes, and because it is a man-made material, can be very flexible in its quality and potential uses. The use of red brick particularly can make a property very distinctive. The use of stone in an eco-friendly construction, or a green building, has both advantages and some disadvantages. The same can be said of brick. They can also be used together, which has some construction value in terms of insulation, but also expensive, and un-ecological in terms of transport costs.

Weighing Up the Benefits of Both Materials
Whether or not one material outweighs the other is not a straight-forward case; Stone needs to be quarried, which clearly has an environmental impact, dressed, and transported. Using locally quarried stone can offset some of this impact, or you might be lucky to have stone already on-site. Using stone from the site you are building on emulates the environment, and could be said to offset the impact of having to transport materials from further distances. It is also said that a stone-built building gives the effect of anchoring the building to the land, and into the local environment. Regional stone has its own distinctive colour, texture and quality. Keep your eye out when travelling so you can learn to tell the differences between regional types of stone. There are signs that the stone Industry worldwide is responding to the prevailing wish to build green. Adaptations to greener or more environmental practise include adhering to quarrying laws and local environmental regulations, which might involve turning part of the quarry site into a restored nature reserve. Also, a greater involvement in educating the building public toward the benefit of using stone is happening, as is more research and analysis of materials at quarry sites. Evidence that stone has been used for centuries is all around us - the landscape of Ireland for instance shows stone walls and boundary markings, some of which have been dated to 5,000 years ago. In these cases, history literally is 'written in stone'. However, both stone walling and cladding a wall with stone is a slow, laborious job, requires a lot of skill and patience that many enthusiastic self-builders may not have, and above all, it is highly physically demanding.

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7/28/2011 11:12 PM

Stone vs Brick - Sustainable Build

http://www.sustainablebuild.co.uk/StoneVersusBrick.html

Stone buildings are also notoriously colder. They are great in hot climates where the thick stones keep the inside cool, but heat doesn't get effectively trapped by stone. Creating an insulation layer of either thin wood or a rendering of lime can help this. Brick, on the other hand, takes as much resources from the land as stone, in the different components used. Also the heating process to cook the brick has an environmental impact. There is much more opportunity to get exactly the type, texture, size and colour of brick you need to construct with, which is a big advantage. Unfortunately, the material is likely to come from further away, so bear in mind this important environmental impact of travel. If cost is the most important factor in design and construction of your project, brick is going to be the cheaper material to use.It is easier to use, and the skills involved in building with brick are less and easier to learn.

Using the Right Material for the Job
These differences shown between the two materials show the unique possibilities of building with brick or with stone.It is possible, and quite common, to use a combination of brick and stone when designing and constructing a building. For example, using stone as a feature on an exterior wall, as a stone accent, or as a fascia, sets off a standard brick wall.Bearing in mind the sustainable element of the materials, comparing the impact of producing both, from a quarry or from a furnace, has to be specific to your project.

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7/28/2011 11:12 PM

What is Eco Friendly Construction? - Sustainable Build

http://www.sustainablebuild.co.uk/EcoFriendlyConstruction.html

Home > Construction Methods > What is Eco Friendly Construction?

Author: James Murray-White - Updated: 20 August 2010

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Eco-friendly, or ecological, construction is building a structure that is beneficial or non-harmful to the environment, and resource efficient. Otherwise known as green building, this type of construction is efficient in its use of local and renewable materials, and in the energy required to build it, and the energy generated while being within it. Eco-friendly construction has developed in response to the knowledge that buildings have an often negative impact upon our environment and our natural resources. This includes transporting materials hundreds or thousands of miles, which has a negative impact in the energy required to transport them, and also in emissions of hazardous chemicals from a poorly designed building that creates, and traps them.

The Range of Ecologically Built Structures
Many options are now available to those wishing to design and build an eco-friendly dwelling. Architects, engineers and builders worldwide are now using construction techniques that have been developed throughout human history, in response to local environmental concerns and the physical resource opportunities available, coupled with 21st century technological refinements. These range from rammed earth construction, which involves clay-based material mixed with water and then rammed into brick or solid wall form, suitable in hot and dry climates, to straw bale houses, literally using bales of straw as the core structure.Straw is a great insulator, is a breathable material that filters the air passing through it, and contrary to expectation, is fire-resistant when compressed. And it is low cost.See our page www.sustainablebuild.co.uk/strawbale for instructions on how to build. Other options are so-called earth ships, which use recycled car tyres filled with earth as the buildings walls, or Yurts or Gers, the semi-permanent nomadic tents of Inner Asia, that utilise local wood, wool and canvas, to literally live on, with the land.These examples can be seen as development that has a low impact upon the environment, which utilise and blend in with the local environment, and could be dismantled and moved easily.

Features of Ecological Building and Some Techniques
In more conventional building construction, it is how technology and building materials merge and create ecological resources that are the key to green success, as well as using simple and readily available materials. For example, using pulped recycled paper for roof insulation is a simple but highly effective ecological resource. The damage to human health from asbestos insulation, laid out in rolls in thousands of UK homes, is now well known. Asbestos also takes hundreds of years to decompose in landfill. Other features of an ecological building might include :

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7/28/2011 11:13 PM

What is Eco Friendly Construction? - Sustainable Build

http://www.sustainablebuild.co.uk/EcoFriendlyConstruction.html

The varied use of solar panels for domestic hot water heating, Water conservation, possibly including biological waste water treatment and re-use, and the simple collection and recycling of rainwater for garden use, Low energy lightbulbs, which can last up to 100 times longer than regular bulbs, Cellulose insulation (like the paper in the above example), Non-toxic or lead-free paints and wood preservatives, Locally-grown and harvested timber from sustainably managed forests.

Where to Find Examples of Ecological Building
Local Councils and Housing Associations in the UK are now exploring the benefits of ecological construction, and estates constructed on these principles have been built in Edinburgh, in the Cambridgeshire village of March, and several in London. An interesting project in the capital is BedZED, in the borough of Sutton, which utilises solar heating and heat given off by the occupants, combined with a small power plant using wood off-cuts, to heat and power each house, and achieves zero carbon emissions.The estate was planned to be built with materials that were sourced from within 35 miles. This development consists of 82 housing units, owned and managed by the Peabody Trust. It is a great example of a sustainable development building estate, combined with the principles of social housing. To provide inspiration to those of us who want to build ecologically, many UK regions have a demonstration eco-house as a feature within a local Centre for Sustainability, such as The Centre for Alternative Technology, near Machynlleth, Wales, the Create Centre in Bristol, and at the Findhorn Foundation, near Forres, Scotland. These are all set up as educational centres with ecological and sustainable development at their core, which offer eco-construction courses and advice. Other European Countries, particularly Germany, are making eco-construction a national priority, as part of a Governmental response to sustainable development. Currently, there is no Internationally-agreed target for reducing carbon emissions, but several Governments and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO's) are recognising that the built environment plays a huge role in this. There are now many examples of eco-building around - from simple designs to elaborate constructions. They can be a challenge to conceive and create, but by doing so, we benefit from being in them, and the Environment appreciates it too!

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7/28/2011 11:13 PM

Carbon Footprints and How to Reduce Them - Sustainable Build

http://www.sustainablebuild.co.uk/CarbonFootprinting.html

Home > Construction Methods > Carbon Footprints and How to Reduce Them

Author: Mike Watson - Updated: 22 December 2010

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A carbon footprint is used to calculate the amount of damage caused by an individual, household, institution or business to the environment through harmful carbon dioxide emissions. Reducing carbon dioxide emissions is seen as essential to sustaining the environment and can be achieved in two ways:

Reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions. This can be
accomplished by calculating your 'carbon footprint' and identifying those aspects of your routine that consume the most carbon. Following this, it is possible to minimise those activities and, where possible, seek sustainable alternatives. For example, you can walk or cycle to work, rather than driving.

Carbon Offsetting. Alternatively you can reduce overall carbon emissions by 'offsetting' your carbon emissions. This involves actively promoting the reduction of carbon emissions, whilst not necessarily making a change to your business practice. In this way a large company - for example - may continue to burn fossil fuels at their current rate, yet contribute to an overall reduction in carbon emissions by investing in initiatives that actively reduce carbon emissions. The Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty on climate change, presided over by the UN and subscribed to, currently, by 164 countries worldwide. The treaty demands that full signatories reduce their carbon emissions (their carbon footprint) as part of a common initiative. This is achieved either by a reduction of emissions, or by 'carbon offsetting'. The UK, as a signatory is legally obligated to reduce fossil fuel emissions, within given targets. Initiatives are being phased in to achieve such reductions and companies and institutions are bound by law to comply. The Kyoto Protocol operates on a two-tier system that requires 'Annex I' countries (industrialised nations, who consume the most carbon) to reduce their emissions, whilst developing countries can continue to burn fossil fuel at their current rate. Countries are allocated 'carbon credits', which dictate how much carbon they are allowed to use. An Annex I country can buy carbon credits from a developing country, thus enabling them to burn fossil fuel without overstepping worldwide carbon limitations. As it stands there is no legal obligation in the UK for individuals to reduce fuel emissions, except in the workplace, where they will do so as part of company policy. However, many people are concerned about the environment and, therefore, take steps to minimise their carbon usage.

Reducing Carbon Emissions

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7/28/2011 11:14 PM

Carbon Footprints and How to Reduce Them - Sustainable Build

http://www.sustainablebuild.co.uk/CarbonFootprinting.html

There are many ways that companies and institutions can reduce carbon emissions.Here are just a few: Enacting a recycling policy. Enacting and promoting a car-sharing scheme amongst its employees. Encouraging employees to walk or cycle to work. Educating employees in the need to reduce carbon emissions. Reducing the need for air travel. Reducing the use of electricity. Developing new methods of work and manufacturing that are less harmful to the environment. As an individual it is possible to do much of the above yourself. If your workplace does not have an initiative for reducing carbon emissions then you could possibly offer to develop and promote such a program.

Carbon Offsetting
There are many ways to offset carbon. Buying 'carbon credits' from developing nations and using them in 'Annex I' countries is one such way. Arguably, however, this does not address the dependence of industrialised nations on fossil fuels. It is possible for an organisation to buy carbon emissions and not use them, thus reducing carbon usage, rather then merely 'offsetting' carbon whilst continuing to operate harmful industrial practices. Planting trees is a popular way to offset carbon. Trees breathe in carbon dioxide and convert it into oxygen. This process is called sequestration. Many companies invest in tree planting initiatives in order to offset their carbon. It is possible as an individual to invest in such schemes. Alternatively, you could plant trees yourself, in your own garden. This is a relatively inexpensive and rewarding way of contributing to environmental well-being. Other forms of carbon offsetting include investing in organisations that promote awareness of environmental issues and supporting sustainable technologies (such as solar or wind power).

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7/28/2011 11:14 PM

Using Locally Sustainable Materials - Sustainable Build

http://www.sustainablebuild.co.uk/LocallySustainableMaterials.html

Home > Construction Methods > Using Locally Sustainable Materials

Author: Mike Watson - Updated: 29 November 2010

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Sustainable building is an essential aspect of widening efforts to conceive an ecologically responsible world. A building that is sustainable must, by nature, be constructed using locally sustainable materials: i.e. materials that can be used without any adverse effect on the environment, and which are produced locally, reducing the need to travel. There are key criteria that can be used to judge whether a material is sustainable or not: To what extent will the materials used in this building cause damage to the environment? When using locally sustainable materials it is essential that those materials are renewable, non-toxic and, therefore, safe for the environment. Ideally, they will be recycled, as well as recyclable. To what extent will a building material contribute to the maintenance of the environment in years to come? Alloys and metals will be more damaging to the environment over a period of years as they are not biodegradable, and are not easily recyclable, unlike wood, for example. To what extent is the material used locally replenishable? If the material is locally sourced and can be found locally for the foreseeable future, travelling will be kept to a minimum, reducing harmful fuel emissions.

Sustainable Building: Finding the Right Suppliers
In order to source the right materials it will be necessary to research the possibilities in the area local to you. It may be necessary to make your needs very clear to building suppliers, who are not generally used to dealing with clients who require locally sustainable materials. Once you have done this they should be happy to help.

Sustainable Building Contractors
It is also important to communicate clearly with any contractors you use in order to ensure that they use locally sustainable materials. It is possible to specify in the contract that you require the use of locally sustainable materials. Make sure that contractors are not wasteful with materials and do not buy more than they need. A list of suppliers and contractors who use locally sustainable materials can be found easily on the internet. If your local council support sustainable building they will hold information on suitable suppliers and contractors.

Green Architects
If you need help with design use a 'Green Architect.' The Royal Institution of British Architects can advise you on finding a suitable practitioner.

Sustainable Building and the Law
Remember, that although there are few legal guidelines to promote the use of sustainable materials,

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7/28/2011 11:15 PM

Using Locally Sustainable Materials - Sustainable Build

http://www.sustainablebuild.co.uk/LocallySustainableMaterials.html

trading standards specifies that a product must be useful for the purpose it was sold for: If you ask for sustainable materials, and are sold them, you are legally entitled to get just that! Some wood is certified as coming from a sustainable source. This certification is legally binding.

Local, Recyclable Materials Made Simple
In order to build using locally sustainable materials you will need to be creative. It may be that what you require is not readily available in the shops, so you will have to find it or make it. Sustainable materials will ideally be recycled and recyclable and found locally… If that sounds like a lot to ask, bear in mind that if a material is recycled it is probably recyclable! It may be possible to recycle household plastics in the building process. Somerset College, which was built using sustainable materials, includes hand basins made from old yoghurt pots and pavilions made of clay and straw.As for being local… look around you! For example, if you live near a beach it may be possible to use stones and driftwood in the building process. If you know of someone refurbishing a home, it may be able to use some of their waste, such as old floorboards, doors etc.

The Golden Oldies are often the Greenest!
Often, old materials and building methods are more sustainable than new ones. Wattle and Daub (a system of building using compressed mud and straw) and Thatched Roofing are two examples of sustainable building methods that are rarely seen today. Practitioners of such methods can still be found via an internet search.

Experiment and Enjoy!
Building using sustainable materials is immensely rewarding. It requires ingenuity and creativity, whilst at the same time providing a sense of well being and contributing to a better environment, now and for future generations… What are you waiting for?

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Sustainable Locations by Sustainable Build (UK)

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Brownfield Sites
In the UK a brownfield site is defined as previously developed land that has the potential for being redeveloped. It is often (but not always) land that has been used...

Greenfield Sites
Greenfield sites are areas of land, usually agricultural or amenity land, which are being considered for urban development. This is a highly contentious issue,...

Location: Water Supply
In assessing a site for a potential new build, one of the key points to cover in the assessment will be the access to a water supply, and the drainage potential....

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Sustainable Building Around the World
Sustainable building has taken off round the world, with developments happening in one country being copied and improved upon in another. This...

Sustainable Building Around the World
This article looks at further examples of sustainable buildings around the world. Building to enhance the local environment, perhaps to blend in to...

Transport Links to New Build Developments
One of the primary considerations with any site is access and transportation. They are key factors in the success of any development; communities...

Urban Reclamation: Using Existing Buildings
Urban reclamation is essentially reclaiming space in the city for a community's use again, either for housing, leisure, or business. The space is...

Where to Site a Sustainable Development
To site your building sustainably, several considerations must be made. Firstly, it is crucial to take a long-term view of constructing a...

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Sustainable Design by Sustainable Build (UK)

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Building Design and the Natural Environment
Humans live in a very anthropocentric world; that is most of us, unless we are farmers, or live deep within the countryside, spend our time...

Careers and Courses for Eco Build
Learning about green building techniques, and ways to make construction more environmentally friendly, are becoming much more common and easily available through a...

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If you’re planning to update your tired kitchen by installing new worktops, you can choose from a range of ‘greener’ options. Sadly, no worktop is truly...

City Planning and Sustainable Design
Sustainable design is such a major part of the concept of design that it is now often included in the planning and design process by urban and city planners, in...

Compost Toilets
Composting toilets (also called biological, dry or waterless toilets) are systems that treat human excrement through biological processes, turning it into organic...

Eco Friendly Ventilation
We all know what its like to be in an office environment or home without air conditioning, particularly if there's an untypical heat wave across the UK, but how can we...

Energy Efficient Appliances
Electricity usage has a profound detrimental effect on the environment. Electricity is sourced from power stations, the majority of which burn harmful fossil fuels. One...

Environmentally Friendly Carbon Reflection Techniques
There is little doubt that at the start of the new millennium, the planet is in an environmental crisis. The production of carbon by humans is...

Heating and Sustainability
The biggest issue facing house designers and builders in the modern age is how to ensure the construction accords with the worldwide need to exist within limits of...

Low Allergen Design
Allergens are substances that cause an allergic reaction in the immune system. Symptoms include: headaches, shortness of breath, eczema, sneezing, watery eyes,...

Measuring How Much Your Household Recycles
Recycling the objects and materials we use on a daily basis is now such an urgent task that Governments, Local Councils and concerned individuals are...

Renovating and Refitting
Renovating an old house or simply refitting is perhaps the most sustainable means of construction. If the outer shell is kept, and the project needs no major building...

Space Usage in Sustainable Design
Within the field of sustainable design, space, or the use thereof, is paramount. Sustainability in building design means can the

Sunrooms and Greenhouses
Sunrooms and greenhouses are a wonderful asset to any type of building be they attached to the building or freestanding in another

Sustainable Buildings Using Bamboo Construction
Bamboo is a woody evergreen plant traditionally grown in South-East Asia, and now grown across India and

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7/28/2011 11:19 PM

Sustainable Design by Sustainable Build (UK)

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building be wholly

part of the garden or

the Himalayas, North-East

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Windows are a critical

The Best Options for Outdoor Surfaces
Just 20 years ago, most gardens in Britain had a lawn. Usually, it covered most of the garden – with a few bushes, flower beds or features such...

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huge threat to & Privacy fresh water Terms supplies. The construction...

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7/28/2011 11:19 PM

Types of Construction by Sustainable Build (UK)

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Brick Manufacture and Use in Construction
Bricks are blocks of clay that have been hardened through being fired in a kiln or dried in the sun. Over time, kiln-fired bricks have grown more...

Building Materials: Buy Local and Buy Natural
When you’re looking for building materials, buying locally instead of ordering from afar has many advantages for your local community and the...

Earth and Construction
Earth construction is the practice of building with unfired, untreated, raw earth. It has been successfully used around the world for over 11,000 years, and it is...

Mongolian Gers & Yurts: Nomads Tents
Once you have stepped into a ger or yurt, and experienced the freedom of life within its circular space, or enjoyed a night's sleep within one, then you will know what...

Stone Construction
Stone has been used as a building material for thousands of years. It has long been recognised as a material of great durability and superior artistic quality, the...

Straw Bale Construction
People have built homes using straw, grass, or reed throughout history. During the late 1800s on the American plains however, straw bales houses were a matter of...

Underground Construction
Underground construction has been around for thousands of years, mostly developed through mining and more recently through transport, housing and commercial industries....

Wood Frame Construction
Although housing with wood frames is very common in many parts of the world (America, for example), it's not often found in Britain these days. Yet it's a very durable...

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