18 Feb 2009 05:02:05
Old design makes new zero carbon house
A 600-year-old design has been used to create a zero-carbon home that creates all its own energy.
The Crossway house in Kent is an arched vault covered with earth and plants and filled with energy conservation and generation measures.
Under its "timbrel vaulting", first seen in Valencia in 1382, the home uses phase changing materials to regulate its temperature.
These substances absorb heat as they change from solid to liquid forms and cool the building. The heat is then released as the material changes back to solid form.
The building is also insulated with recycled newspaper and has triple glazing throughout.
According to architect Richard Hawkes it is the first building in the UK to use photovoltaic and thermal solar panels as well as the first to feature vacuum-sealed front doors.
"The design is cost-effective in that the home is relatively simple to build and, once you know what you're doing, it's quick," said Michael Ramage of Cambridge University, who worked on the design.
"Many of the costs come from the new technology it uses for energy storage and generation. If those become more widely available, making a similar house cheaply in much larger quantities may be possible."
The government last week unveiled plans to make all homes near zero carbon in a bid to reduce carbon emissions from the residential sector which currently accounts for 27 per cent of UK emissions.http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/news/dp/2009021801