Wednesday, 30 November 2011

So, will it have been worth it?

So you're sitting there, in your old house, knowing the paint is going to be dry in the new one pretty soon, so it doesn't matter that it's getting colder and that the guy who filled up the kerosene cans didn't put the lid on properly, and it spilt on the floor of the car, because soon you're never going to need any more kerosene.

You've already let the kids switch on the electric toilet seat warmer, and if it gets much colder you may actually plug it in. It's not going to be on for long though.

Then you read this:

And you start to wonder, again, whether the extra mile was worth the few inches more of energy efficiency. The point of the article is that the difference between a high energy performance and very high energy performance building is not so great, but lifestyles will make a huge difference. So if you're eating strawberries flown in from India, your eco house isn't really going to be so eco. Riding a bicycle to work may not help your carbon credentials if your burning fat from an avocado from Mexico.

So what does the design of buildings actually do to change the way people live?  

Or maybe this is just the nature of the media to find different opinions, and highly energy efficient buildings really are worth it; there are just other things to worry about too.

I still wonder how much the new house is just going to be a very stable environment, immune to the massive temperature swings outside, and what we're getting is comfort, rather than ecology. I worry that the lifetime carbon costs have been spent and then some in the construction.

There certainly are several fronts to fight on when we're trying to come to terms with a population doubling in a couple of decades.

So, going to back to the idea of a house that doesn't consume energy, at least symbolically this is a challenge to the consumerist aesthetic.

You can't make an omelette without using a few hundred kilojoules of thermal energy.