Power, and less energy, to the people

By Dave Armstrong - 05 Jul 2014 9:35:0 GMT
Power, and less energy, to the people

New roof, more solar, less wind-power, whatever you dream of is now reality. Every country contains enthusiasts and others who simply want to be less energy-intensive. They seem to want sustainability and free energy within their grasp. Even a demonstration of their intent with a green roof on the garden shed will do.. but that could lead to more; House with solar panels image; Credit: © Shutterstock

People the world over have always built structures using local materials at the lowest cost. Technology tends to give us innovation at the expense of energy-intensive manufacture, distant sources and often the highest cost affordable. These contrasts do nothing for a sustainable future or sensible use of what are often limited resources. The simple house we live in a garage or garden shed is a useful example to explore.

A mud construction is possibly the most sustainable construction, rather like using the local cave, but moving it to where you want it. Labour intensive work will produce a modern and well insulated construction, while straw or other plant material would be used for strength and lime has been used to apply a kind of plaster internally. Electricity and piping require regulated manufactured products and drainage could either be within a local scheme, a simple septic tank or a more advanced activated sludge system. Palm leaf, hemp, recycled rubber, textiles, cork, adobe, bamboo, hay and straw have also been utilised as the major construct.

Apart from finding help with the labour intensive bits, strong, durable buildings can easily be made with these materials. Recent research can be located and the internet is possibly a major source of information on how efficient these structures are, compared with traditional housing. Environmentally friendly materials can easily be replaced or you can even build another one, if for example, the family expanded.

Toxicity of sustainable material is always checked by national regulations, but there is little danger of approaching the toxic levels of more modern inventions such as the common battery, lead in paint, asbestos insulation or the other common mistakes that have been made so often in the construction business.

The walls and the roof are covered here. The floor furniture and pipework are now being studied to find new functions for old materials, cheap alternatives and sustainable sources that don’t cause global warming - they just keep you cosy! Many websites will tell you all about the fantastic possibilities, but we’ll keep our feet on the ground and respond on our Facebook page to any enquiry that we can answer. Information of the type you might need is in - Sustainable materials.

Meanwhile we’ll continue at Earth Times with a short series on how solar and wind power could be employed for electrical energy, using bought products, and buildings can be made, by you, to your personal requirements, using the ideas noted above!