Posted by British Gas in Energy
Where do you find a revolutionary new energy saving lightbulb, a straw bale building system, more solar panels than you can imagine and roof tiles made of recycled plastic milk bottles?
The answer is Ecobuild, and I was just one of around 60,000 people who made their way to the show at the ExCel exhibition centre in East London. Since its launch in 2005, Ecobuild has almost doubled in size every year to become what the organizers claim is “the biggest event in the world for sustainable design, construction and the built environment”.
The sheer size of the show is an indication of how far we’ve come in embracing sustainability. For the first time, I sensed that the various products and technologies are really beginning to work together. The worry is that technology is often seen as the solution and more simple measures are ignored. Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud put this in perspective during one of the many seminars, emphasizing that what changes things is how we behave: sustainability is about car clubs, food growing and improved sociability as much as about gadgets.
Over 26 million of our homes need low-carbon retrofits so Greg Barker, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, came along to talk about the government's much anticipated Green Deal. This will allow us to take out loans to improve the energy efficiency of our properties. He highlighted the fact that we have some of the worst energy performing buildings in Europe and that making our homes energy efficient is just as important as generating energy.
Although over half the show’s north hall was geared to solar panels, I discovered plenty of ways of cutting energy bills by simply making homes less draughty and more thermally efficient. The show revealed a vast selection of insulation products ranging from those derived from the petrochemical industry to natural materials such as sheep’s wool, recycled newspaper and wood fibre. Importantly, you could touch and feel these and understand their various pros and cons.
One of the things I like about Ecobuild is that it showcases traditional and natural materials being used as solutions for 21st century buildings. Earth Building UK (EBUK) is a pioneering organisation promoting the use of earth for building and it had live demonstrations. Clayworks was doing the same with clay plasters and paints while Ty-Mawr and Mike Wye & Associates explained the benefits of using lime products. Meanwhile ModCell was showing how straw bales and hemp can be used to prefabricate not only homes but schools and offices.
As for the recycled plastic roof tiles, they featured in the sustainable materials library rematerialise.org, newly launched by Kingston University. And that revolutionary lightbulb? Looking like a space-age hand grenade, the Zeta LifeBulb is an 8 Watt omni-directional light emitting diode (LED) replacement for the traditional 60 Watt incandescent light bulb - I predict we’ll all be using them very soon.
This post was written by Roger Hunt at http://huntwriter.com/