:: Specific Design Brief

CAT 6: Ecological Housing - further information


Ecological Housing
A few committed designers and builders are gradually extending knowledge and practice in energy efficient, ecological methods of construction. Design and make a model of an energy efficient, pre-fabricated house or alternative building, or a component for such a house. It should use ecological materials and renewable energy systems, as affordable, and be appropriate for use in the UK.

Alongside increasing concern in this country that we need to be minimising our use and wastage of resources, and moving towards more sustainable building generally, there is a huge demand for new housing to be built throughout the country. The government has projected a need for 4 million new homes in the next 20 years. This is partly due to demographic fluctuations in the size of family units. There are of course environmental arguments that we could be making better use of existing building stock, with eco-renovation and conversion projects.  However, we will look at new build here for simplicity.

‘About half of the total national energy bill goes into servicing buildings…Of this figure, about 60% is used by domestic buildings, or 29% of the total.’

From The Whole House Book.
The ecological building market and industry in this country is currently small and limited in its skill base.  It relies on a few committed designers and builders to experiment and increase knowledge about energy efficient, ecological methods of construction.  These businesses tend to be small, poorly financed, generally involved in one-off designs.

If sustainable construction is to become more widespread, these skills obviously need to become more mainstream.  One  suggestion to promote this is that small regional factory units could produce pre-fabricated house units. In this way, the skilled design and construction methods would reach a wider market.  There would be more interest from developers and mass house builders, since they would be more able to commercially afford the mass produced units. On site construction time would be reduced, and the level of detailing required to produce energy efficient housing would be partly carried out under factory conditions, minimising reliance on hard-to-monitor site workmanship. This is in line with current trends in the building industry, in the UK and mainland Europe.

The environmental costs of the transport to bring the components to site would be offset by reducing the daily transport costs of tradespeople to site, since the on-site construction period would be much reduced.