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Links for January 23rd through January 26th

by Mel Starrs on January 29, 2010

in News

These are my links for January 23rd through January 26th:

  • Not the last straw: Homes made from straw bales make a comeback | MNN – Mother Nature Network – Volunteer labour makes costing straw bale difficult: "Though the materials used for straw bale buildings – straw & plaster – are typically inexpensive, the special knowledge required to design & build these structures usually means that labor costs can be anywhere between 10 percent and 20 percent higher than for traditional buildings, though some of that cost is made back through energy efficiency.
    “The construction of these buildings takes a person who’s done tons of training to really understand exactly how to get the material to behave,” says Moore. “It just ends up costing the consumer too much money for the benefit it produces.”
    In addition, straw bales can create extra hassle in terms of coordinating their delivery from local farmers, having a big enough job site to store all the bales and keeping them dry during construction.
    One way that people help keep labor costs down is to throw “bale raising” parties where friends & family members help stack bales and plaster walls."
  • Forget Sustainability, It’ s Time to Talk Resilience – "There's a new concept infiltrating the climate change conversation, and it has the potential to change the conversation altogether. It’s time to give sustainability a rest and start talking about resilience, Rob Hopkins writes in Resurgence.
    “The term ‘resilience’ is appearing more frequently in discussions about environmental concerns, and it has a strong claim to actually being a more successful concept than that of sustainability. Sustainability and its oxymoronic offspring sustainable development are commonly held to be a sufficient response to the scale of the climate challenge we face: to reduce the inputs at one end of the globalised economic growth model (energy, resources, and so on) while reducing the outputs at the other end (pollution, carbon emissions, etc.). However, responses to climate change that do not also address the imminent, or quite possibly already passed, peak in world oil production do not adequately address the nature of the challenge we face.”"
  • House 2.0: The Denby Dale Passive House – "Because of all this, the house down the end of Geoff and Kate’s garden has assumed a significance they cannot have dreamt of when they first contacted Bill Butcher. It’s not just a low energy house, it’s a Passive House. And it’s not just a Passive house, it’s an assault craft landing on the beach that is the Code for Sustainable Homes. By 2016, when in theory the Code should kick in fully and all new homes should be “zero carbon”, you would not be allowed to build this house. For a start, it is going to have a gas boiler — not permitted under Code Level 6. And it will have nothing in the way of home-generated electricity (although the Feed-In-Tariff coming on stream later this year may cause Geoff and Kate to reconsider)."
  • Archinect : Views : Victory Gardens, or the Impact of the Financial Crisis on Architecture – Gloomy, but worth reading the whole article: "The hard part is going to be for architects to understand just how this is healthy for the profession. First, architects have hardly raised their productivity since the integration of digital design tools into their work. Sure, designs have gotten much more complex, but more isn’t always more. Many firms have wound up wasting labor on gimmicky designs produced by an army of interns. Now those firms are going to finally begin using technology the way it was meant to be. Watch as fifty-person firms shrink to five or ten core employees. Instead of talking about the cool things that digital technology can make, architects are going to talk about how fast and efficient digital technology makes them.
    That will be a huge paradigm-shift and will lead to more interesting work along the way."
  • Sustainability: Carbon reduction – Building – Everything you need to know about CRC: "So is the financial liability placed on organisations by the CRC significant enough to demonstrate a convincing business case for improving energy performance in existing buildings? Not quite. However, the business case becomes more compelling when energy savings are taken into account as shown in the table below.
    Early investment in more energy efficient systems can reap significant savings in terms of reduced energy costs. The example shows the initial investment paid back in less than four years. If early action is difficult due to the current economic climate, then appropriate investment in time for the capped phase (2013) will also significantly reduce CRC liability and generate substantial energy savings. "