For quite a long time I held the naive view that houses should be made of bricks. It seemed obvious to me and I always struggled when they weren’t! Perhaps it’s something that’s instilled in you as a child or to do with the experience of living in brick buildings. Now that I have accepted that it would be pretty stupid to continue down this route if there are better alternatives I can ponder what are the most sustainable materials?
My immediate thoughts would turn to wood or straw bale building, but of course there’s an impact behind those materials, too. Firstly, with sourcing timber there has to be a good system in place. Are they really growing the trees at a rate that is equal to or greater than what is being chopped down? If so, great . . . but should we really take the timber company’s word for it? Even going to look wouldn’t really give us a clue unless we knew more about the situation. Then we have to ask how far the timber travels. I just get it from the local warehouse but it’s come from somewhere and I’m banking it’s not the UK. And so on and so forth.
The point here is that when we consider creating a ‘sustainable’ home it may be far from it. In fact my guest in the latest podcast, Mark Wilson from BuildingDesignExpert.com, argues that sustainable homes just don’t exist. ‘No home’ is the only sustainable model, which is clearly not going to help us much! After that point everything is a compromise. Therefore what we are really trying to do is maintain our environment and the way in which we live on the planet.
We even got stuck into the Romans for setting us off down this route but let’s keep quiet about the Industrial Revolution which clearly upped the stakes from our end.
Getting back to the present, what can we do to make sure our projects have the smallest carbon footprint possible? And, why must we be looking at the energy in use as well as the embodied energy during the build. Yet again, lots to learn!