guardian.co.uk - Could earthships help deliver Britain's low-carbon future?

Via: guardian.co.uk, Green Living Blog
By Bibi van der Zee Wednesday 24 November 2010

Photograph: Daren Howarth

'The greenhouse areas captured the sun, with the sloping glass tilted precisely to take advantage of the fact that in summer the sun is high, and in winter it is lower and so penetrates further into the house just as you need the extra warmth. All the houses have solar water panels, rainwater collection systems and reedbed sewages. They are relatively cheap to build, have vegetable gardens, bird tables and compost bins.

After a wonderful night's sleep, I wake up to sun pouring in through the front of the Groundhouse. The last time I visited an earthship – the Low Carbon Trust one in Brighton and Howarth's first such project – it seemed dark and slightly depressing. But now Howarth has done away with the greenhouse frontage and simply faced the house south, with only the bathroom and boiler room on the back walls, so all the other rooms pick up every available drop of sunlight.

Despite having no heating on during the night, the house is pleasantly warm. In their book, Howarth and Nortje kept track of the Groundhouse temperature for a year and, with no heating beyond the wood-burning stoves, it was between 18.7C in winter and 22C in summer.

The house is also carbon neutral, which is interesting because the UK's coalition government is keeping the target of all newbuild homes having a zero carbon footprint by 2016. Might earthships be an answer? Green architect Pat Borer, who is just finishing the Centre for Alternative Technologies' beautiful Welsh Institute for Sustainable Education, says they can be wonderful "from a libertarian, anarchist view of the world, but are Wimpey or Barretts going to go into earthships?" He thinks they may be a "bit of a red herring".'

Full article HERE

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