What is an Eco House?
I thought at this early stage it is worth clarifying, at least in our minds, the definition.
The terminology ‘eco’ does arguably get overused in the modern say and the question is does it still have the intended meaning?
By 2016 any new build house will need to meet the Governments Code 6 standard for sustainable homes – which means ‘zero carbon’. So by 2016 and new build homes will not be eco, it will just be the norm and perhaps the term eco may then lose relevance.
So it makes sense to us that an eco house is one built to these future standards now!
The extra dimension is then whether a house is ‘zero carbon’ or ‘carbon neutral’? Meaning there is no carbon emissions into the atmosphere from the property. (Ie. The property is generating its own supply of power from other ‘renewable’ sources to sustain it s own energy needs and therefore not using any of the earth’s non-renewable resources to meet these needs.
It is not as simple though as just building a carbon neutral or zero carbon home.
The outcome of whether it meets this classification is down to how the occupants live in the house. Occupants must effectively lead a ‘low energy’ lifestyle, where possible in their eco home to ensure energy needs are minimised.
An eco friendly home can be built with excellent insulation to reduce heating needs or have very energy efficient appliances installed however if the occupants then leave lights on all over the house, use hot water excessively or even use energy hungry appliances like tumble dryers unnecessarily then energy usage requirements will be very high. So this house may not be able to meet the demands of the users, from renewable sources.
As such the occupants are then reliant on the national grid to meet additional energy needs and the house is not ‘carbon neutral’. (we can talk further about this)
The many architects we have spoken with all agree that the largest impact on the green credentials of a house is primarily down to the occupants usage of the property, even over an above the impact of the property design itself.
This is hence why we feel the term ‘eco house’ is appropriate as it relates in our mind to the standard and level of energy efficiency inbuilt to the design of the property.
The occupants are therefore the contributors and reason for their home earning the title of ‘zero carbon’ through how they live in that property. This may mean some compromise to the modern lifestyle, of sometimes excess and waste, to which we have become accustomed.
For us at London Eco House our goal is very much to own a ‘carbon neutral’ home and lead the corresponding lifestyle. We have already taken steps to adjust our lifestyles and reduce the unnecessary excess. Once we have the home which will give us the ability to meet our energy needs effectively then a few other small adaptions will mean will hopefully be living our carbon neutral life in our own ‘Eco’ house.