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Wordblog revived

incorporating New Life

‘Climate change’

25 years ago Mrs Thatcher made an impassioned plea to the world for action on the environment

A tweet from Ben Gummer, the Ipswich MP, led me to a resumé of a speech Margaret Thatcher. Now we can only regret that the world did not listen more carefully and take action.

Part of what she said to the General Assembly of the United Nations was:

What we are now doing to the world, by degrading the land surfaces, by polluting the waters and by adding greenhouse gases to the air at an unprecedented rate—all this is new in the experience of the earth. It is mankind and his activities which are changing the environment of our planet in damaging and dangerous ways.

We can find examples in the past. Indeed we may well conclude that it was the silting up of the River Euphrates which drove man out of the Garden of Eden…

The difference now is in the scale of the damage we are doing.

It was a powerful speech, the full importance of which seems to have been lost on even some of her most fervent followers.

As Peter Franklin, author of the post, comments: “If David Cameron were to do that today, he’d immediately be accused of being out-of-touch, of obsessing over an issue far removed from the everyday concerns of ordinary voters.”

There is a link to the post in the tweet above: it is well worth reading.

English construction industry should play bigger part in EU plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions

One of the unknowns throughout the building work was how air-tight we could make Ridgeway. We were told it was more difficult with a conversion and we would be doing well if we got a 3 (m3/hr/m2 air loss at a pressure of 50 Pa).

I don’t understand the formula but the lower the number the better. English building regs for new houses is 10, while extensions and renovations do not have to be measured. At the start of the project I told Karl, the builder, that we were aiming at 1. His reaction was: “That would look good on the CV.”

The approach was to nag every tradesman who cam through the door, follow the architect’s instructions and use vast quantities of tape, expanding foam and mastic on every join and anything that looked like a hole.

The first test came out at 2.45 which comfortably meets both German and Swedish building regs. As we don’t need a further test to meet any standards I am not planning to spend the money on one. But we have identified leaks and closing those should bring the figure down to about 1. That is not quite Passivhaus but getting close.

We worked hard on plugging the gaps because air leakage would reduce the efficiency of the air-source heating and the mechanical heat recovery ventilation. Several people told me British workers could not build air tight. We have shown that they can given the right design and by ensuring that everyone working on the site was aware of the importance of blocking every possible leak.

But still major construction firms are apparently often struggling to meet even the inadequate English standard. The fact that on new estates only a sample of buildings are tested and the developer gets to choose which ones are does not help improve things.

With the news today that EU leaders have agreed a pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 improved standards in the construction industry become increasingly important. For anyone who tells me British workmen are the problem I now have the experience to respond: “Rubbish. They just need the right plans and committed managers.”






Eco town plans for global warming problems

Overheating caused by global warming has been identified as the “biggest threat” to new houses at the North West Bicester eco-town according to the local paper in Oxfordshire.

The houses are being designed to account for global warming with funding from the Technology Strategy Board, a body set up by the government to promote new technologies, says the Bicester Advertiser and Review.

Councillor Richard Mould of the Eco Bicester Strategic Deliver Board (I do wish they did not have such a self-important name) told the paper:

We’re trying to future proof homes, taking into account global warming for the next 50 years. There’s also provision for shutters to protect them from the heat.

I am not going to be around that long and our renovation will not reach code level five for sustainable homes but we have thought about overheating with our big south-facing windows.

Having lived in southern Spain for a couple of years we are fairly confident of our ability to manage solar gain through the use of night-time ventilation and shutters or other shading during the day. And super-insulation helps keep homes cool in summer as well as warm in winter.

But we have not really thought about the security issues involved in capturing cooler night air. That is why houses in Spain have bars (sometimes very ornate) on the windows. Maybe we will need them here too sometime.