The Low Carbon Revolutions Starts at Home*

The construction of zero carbon buildings and the retrofitting of existing buildings offer some of the most cost-effective and most immediate strategies in response to climate change.

The ecovillage at Findhorn has erected 61 ecological buildings to date and there are ongoing plans for the continued construction of an ecologically respectful built environment. TOver the years we have developed a unique construction system, environmentally sound and energy efficient. Using natural and non-toxic materials we have developed a 'breathing wall' structure, which allows the fabric of a building to interact beneficially with people to moderate humidity and air quality. We have also experimented with straw bale construction, the 'Earthship' system using recycled car tyres, and remain open to further new and innovative ecological solutions for the built environment.

The publication of Simply Build Green, the UK's first technical guide to ecological housing, based on our own research and experience, has helped the ecovillage become a major resource for environmental education locally, nationally and internationally.

Ecological details featured in our buildings include:

» Use of passive solar features where possible through orientation and window layout.
» Use of solar panels for domestic hot water heating.
» A district heating system using a gas condensing boiler for highest fuel efficiency.
» Super efficient insulation (U-values of 0.2 watts/m2 C in roof, walls and floors).
» Low-energy light bulbs throughout.
» Triple glazing (U=1.65 watts/m2 C).
» Cellulose insulation (made from recycled paper).
» Non-toxic organic paints and wood preservatives throughout.
» Boarding manufactured without the use of toxic glues or resins.
» Locally grown and harvested timber from managed forests.
» Local stone for skirting, patios and pathways.
» Roofing with natural clay tiles.
» Innovative 'breathing wall' construction allowing a controlled exchange of air & vapour, and eliminating the need for a conventional vapour barrier.
» Suspended timber floors for underfloor air circulation to avoid any possible build-up of radon gas.
» Isolating electrical circuits to reduce electromagnetic field stress.
» Water conservation (showers, low-flush toilets and self-closing taps).
» Collection and recycling of rainwater for garden use.
» Shared facilities (laundry, kitchens, lounges) avoiding unnecessary duplication.
» Simple timber frame construction and detailing, suitable for Self Building
Guestlodge Nature Sanctuary

* Brenda Boardman, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

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Findhorn Ecovillage The Park Findhorn IV36 3TZ, Scotland, UK