Still ruminating about Wednesday's Grand Designs, which featured one of the first certified Passive Houses in England, an extraordinary earth-sheltered structure built under an existing barn in the Cotswolds. You can read about it here.
It has already sparked a fair amount of controversy, much of it visible on the Channel 4 website. I liked this one. Not very eco in my view. It's all very well coming up with the technical solutions; PV, passive design, insulation etc. What about the carbon footprint of this project? First of all; location, in the middle of the country-side is not a very sustainable place for a home. Car journeys everywhere. Secondly, What about the 3500 cubic metres of soil and stone? Where has it gone and how much fuel was used to get it there? Then you have the temporary steel frame, lots of concrete and other building materials. A large carbon footprint. All for what? Energy savings and a good view from the roof. I'm hopeful that the next Grand Design won't be based on this level of eco-bling.
Posted by Mark Butt on 23/09/2010 13:23:31
Well you can always find someone to carp about something. My issue is that this house wouldn't have been built underground if it hadn't been for the ridiculous state of our planning laws - it sneaked through under the old Gummer clause which allows building in open countryside if the design is exceptional (i.e ridiculously expensive). There's nothing remotely green about that, and making it a PassivHaus doesn't really alter that at all. It would have been much more sensible to build a more modest structure above ground and, no, it wouldn't have ruined the view.
It gets worse. The first certified PassivHaus structure in Ireland is up and running and, guess what, it's a branch of Tesco. Now, there is no reason why Tesco shouldn't build a low-energy store in Tramore - it probably makes good business sense for them - but there is enough of the old hippy in me to feel distinctly queasy about anything to do with the giant, town-eating, car-loving monster that is Tesco plc. If they are part of the solution, then I must be part of the problem!