These days intelligent design is green design. In many parts of the world that attitude Is increasingly becoming enshrined in building codes and legislation. In Britain, for example, it is already the case that a new extension meet very high standards of insulation, even if the rest of the house does not. Such standards will only be raised in future, so it’s worth being ahead of the game .
The construction industry has a huge carbon footprint . First there are the materials and the energy costs associated with their production and transportation – construction materials account for 30 per cent of road freight in Britain . Secondly there is the problem of building waste, arising from
demolition and from spoiled and surplus materials on site. Thirdly there is the energy consumed during construction.
Eco designers and builders look to reduce the carbon footprint of construction in a number of ways. Most crucially, thcy seek to design and build so that houses are as energy efficient as possible over the course of their lifetime .
The carbon savings that come from insulating to a high degree and using alternative sources of energy will period of decades, more than offset the embodied energy of the materials used in a building’s construction .
That is not to say that choice of construction is unimportant. Local materials, with low embodied ener
as well as materials that are reclaimed or recycled, are preferable, although not always cheaper. So, too, are specifi design and building solutions. Many eco builders use prefabricated structural systems, which tend to be more energy efficient to produce and will also result in less site wastage. Similarly, designing a building or an extension or of a building so that it can be dismantled, reused or recycled
takes the long view .
Unless what you are planning is very straightforware simple changes to the layout, for example – and does not entail making any alterations to the basic structure home, you will need professional advice, certainly a planning stage, along with a competent contractor building professional to carry out the work.
The standard advice applies: ask around for recommendations, ensure that whomever you employ
the relevant professional accreditations, take up references and put everything in writing. When you are factorine green issues into the design equation, you also nced to sure that individuals have the relevant experience and track record in this kind of approach. The last person need is a professional on a learning curve.
For the more complicated home improvement projects such as conversions and extensions, it’s a good idea to employ an architect, at least for the design stage. A good architect will help you to refine your ideas and will work with you to formulate a brief that delivers what you want. He or she may well come up with ideas that you have not considered yourself – which is not to say that you yourself getting talked into something you dont merely that people who haven’t had design trai training often find it difficult to anticipate the knock-on effects of spatial change, especially changes to volume.
Once you have agreed on the outline scheme, your architect will go on to draw up the proposals, submit plans for approval and negotiate the various official hurdles your behalf. After this stage, you can either choose to project manage the job yourself, by hiring builders or contractors directly, or you can retain the services of architect to oversee the work and ensure that everythin runs smoothly and to budget. The latter option is preferah for large-scale projects that entail the coordination of
number of diverse trades with on-site deliveries of materials fixtures and fittings.
Increasingly, these days, many architectural practices both large and small, are well up to speed on eco design. They may also have on-going associations with energy consultants and other technical specialists who can advise in specific cases. As ever, it is important to ensure that you are on the same wavelength. Poor communication lies at the heart of many of the difficulties that arise between
clients and architects. Before you commit, ask to see examples of previous work – donit expect a practice the favours traditional vernacular buildings to come up with a gleaming modernist design, or vice versa.