Research journal entry 2- THE ZERO CARBON HOUSE

Part of the specifications of my current project is that the carbon footprint should be considered. As this is something that I am already interested in, this isn’t too much of a problem. The problem is, looking at eco-architecture houses, the majority are ugly, in my opinion. Is it impossible to create eco-buildings which have the same aesthetic appeal as a building which doesn’t focus on being sustainable?

Typical eco house

This is a question I will answer throughout this research journal. I am looking to create a building that will not have to compromise on the design in order to reduce its footprint.

I will begin with zero carbon homes.

There are government plans within the UK that focus towards all new buildings built after 2016 being zero carbon.

Ambitious as it may seem, the targets for these buildings are split into three main areas:

_Good fabric energy efficiency

_On-site low carbon heat and power

_Investment in Allowable Solutions, if the first two areas don’t bring the building’s carbon emissions to zero.


The achievement of not having to invest in Allowable Solutions means the creation of a passive house- a building which is extremely energy efficient and has a comfortable interior climate which does not use conventional heating or cooling systems.

This can be achieved through very high levels of insulation, air, tightness, solar energy sources, suitable materials and heat recovery and ventilation systems, as passive houses use the occupants, the sun, household appliances and extracted air as their main source of thermal regulation.

Biomass Boiler

Bio-mass boilers are also a carbon efficient way of heating the home, if the pellets used to fuel it are from a sustainable source.

The most important thing it seems, is the insulation, and the heat recovery and ventilation system, to achieve a passive house the latter is essential.

The ventilation system works by using the heat from the outgoing air within the building to warm up the incoming fresh air, using, typically, two fans to extract the air from both sides. On its own, it cannot heat a house and focusses mainly on minimising heat loss, so needs to be used in conjunction with a heating system, for example, one powered by solar energy or a bio-mass boiler.

Heat Recovery Ventilation system

Heat Recovery Ventilation system

Of course, the ventilation system is completely undermined if the building lacks airtightness or insulation.

In windows and glass this can be achieved through triple glazing. The triple glazing consists of three panes of low-e glass which each have an air gap between them, which acts as a tool for slowing down the heat transfer from inside to out.




Insulation for the walls in most passive houses seems to make use of expanded polystyrene insulation, due to its ability to meet the U value without having to be too thick. Concrete could be used by itself but would have to be 15m thick in order to meet the U value. Therefore, the insulation would have to be sandwiched between two layers of concrete.



Can the above requirements be used in my building?

So, the concrete would work, but would it work with fabric formed concrete? How much would the fabric formed nature of the concrete complicate things?

The ventilation system itself seems quite easy to implement, so I believe this would be feasible in my building.

The same would go for the triple glazing, the glass used in my building is mainly structural, so really, the more layers within the panes, the better. As long as the ventilation system works effectively, there is no problem.

Solar panels for my building are a problem, as the south side is obscured by buildings, this is essential if I were to heat the building exclusively with solar energy. It may be possible for the first floor, as it is level with the height of the buildings to the south, but for the workshop, a bio mass boiler may be better.

Is there a way more solar power could be used by adjusting part of the design on the first floor roof?

Where could the boiler be housed? As the workshop doesn’t use machinery it will be used more for heat, light and electricity upstairs. Is there a way that the workshop need for heat and light could be tackled in a way that wouldn’t need the boiler?



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