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'Ecohomes' to save the planet?

If we don't do anything about global warming, the worldwide economy could shrink by 20%, for a total cost of $7,000 billion dollars between now and 2050. In a pilot program, the University of Nottingham, U.K., is building a house which will cut 'greenhouse gas' emissions by 60% and which will be monitored by students over the next 20 years.
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Written by Roland Piquepaille, Inactive on

The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change has been released two days ago and you can find hundreds of articles about it. For your information, I chose this comment from Nature, "How much will it cost to save the world?" The answer is simple: if we don't do anything about global warming, the worldwide economy could shrink by 20%, for a total cost of $7,000 billion dollars between now and 2050. Some governments are already committed to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 20% or more. For example, in a pilot program, the University of Nottingham, U.K., is building a house which will cut 'greenhouse gas' emissions by 60% and which will be monitored by students over the next 20 years. But read more...

In case you think I made a typo in the paragraph above, please read again what the global economy would lose if nothing is done about global warming: £3,700 billion, €5,500 billion or $7,000 billion. Don't you think it's time to do something when you read these staggering numbers? Especially when the 700-page study adds that "taking action now would cost just one per cent of global gross domestic product."

This is why the School of the Built Environment (SBE) at the University of Nottingham started its Creative Energy Homes project.

Here is the plan: "There will be a cluster of ecohomes on the mini-campus of the SBE. Each ecohome demonstrates different construction and sustainable technology systems. The first one to go ahead, the Stoneguard C60 house, will be a live construction project during the summer of 2006."

Below is a section of the house where generations of students will live (Credit: Stoneguard C60 project). You'll find a map of the different floors here and a picture showing the various suppliers there.

The Stoneguard C60 house

Here are some more details about this house where students will live and work over the next 20 years.

Features of the house include an earth-air heat exchanger system to improve thermal comfort, a grey water management system to re-use shower water for flushing and a rainwater-harvesting system to supply water for the washing machine, shower, gardens and external washing. There are also sunpipes to maximise use of natural light, passive and active solar heating and a ventilation/heat recovery system.
The four-bedroom house will be constructed over three levels, including a basement and roof space. It will be occupied by staff and students in order to produce robust and valid data, which will allow the companies involved to monitor the performance of their products and services for both domestic and commercial markets.

Of course, I doubt you can build such a house. But we certainly can do something about the growing threat that global warming represents, either by choosing eco-friendly products or by challenging the people who ask for our votes. But this is another story...

Sources: University of Nottingham news release, October 31, 2006; and various websites

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