My Eco-Home Elliott Clarke, 7.3
Overview My Eco-House is located in a rural coastal setting in Scotland, where it can be powered by sustainable energy sources. It is designed as a a stylish energy-efficient home that will last for future generations. It is built into the rock bed by the sea, in two levels. The underground rooms are bedrooms, and a unique underwater viewing area. The main living space is upstairs. The coastal location has been selected to allow energy to be generated from tidal, wave and wind sources, which would not be available in inland, urban settings. The house also uses solar and geothermal energy. To find out more, click on the various sections of the picture. To return from one of those pages, click the small arrow in the left hand corner. Once you have seen them all click the button at the bottom of this box. Energy supply and use Most homes in the UK at the moment use electricity to power appliances and lighting, produced in power stations using coal/gas or nuclear energy, and are also heated using gas, oil and electricity. Coal, gas and oil are limited resources, and burning them releases CO2, which is thought to cause global warming. Nuclear energy results in radioactive waste. This eco-house generates its own electricity using clean, renewable sources. Because each method has low efficiency and can be variable (e.g. because of the weather), several methods are used to ensure the house always has enough power. If an excess is made, it can be sold to the National Grid. The house is also heated using renewable energy. These methods are explained in more detail on the next pages. In addition, the house minimises the energy it needs, for example by using energy-efficient appliances, and by reducing heat loss from the house in winter. Continue?
Upper level of the house Solar panels and Wind turbine These great energy-generating methods should be in use most of the time as the solar panels are facing south and the seaside is a windy site. In the wind turbine, the wind moves a magnet in a coil, which turns motion into electricity that can be stored in a battery. The solar panels work by silicon capturing energy from the sunlight. These two methods back each other up: if there is no wind there might still be sun, and vice versa. Bikes & Rowing Machines These are an extra fun way of powering the home, particularly by keeping fit while watching TV! Again, motion is converted to electricity. Fitted Kitchen This kitchen uses an energy-efficient fridge, freezer and cooker. The washing machine also has a low water consumption. There is a big sink for washing dishes by hand. There is a wood-fuelled stove for heating and additional cooking. Walls The walls here are made from larch as it does not need to be treated to withstand the weather and is available locally. New trees can be planted as others are used, so it is a renewable resource. Cellulose can be use for insulation, which is made from recycled newspaper. View glass This is a brilliant view of the shore with top-of the range glazing. Low-e (heat reflective) triple glazing is expensive but reduces heat loss across windows. The window frame can be made renewable soft wood.
Why underground? Building part of the house underground reduces heat loss from exterior walls. It also reduces building materials for the walls. It additionally connects the house easier to geothermal energy (water pumped through a pipe which goes deep in the ground and is heated up, providing a free heating for the house). Underground Living Quarters Light tubes These are used to give light to the bedrooms during the day. These work by reflecting light down a mirrored cylinder from the surface. This saves on energy use for lighting. Water Turbines These are used to capture energy as the sea comes in and out with the tides (like the effect of wind on wind turbines). They are positioned next to the bedrooms, but because there is a rock wall between, you cannot hear a thing. Bedrooms The bedrooms are sited in the underground part of the building because they need less light. Glass lounge This is the most exciting feature of the house, as it allows you to sit back and have a beautiful under water view of the sea. To reduce heat loss across the glass, low-e triple glazing is used. The frame is made from recycled aluminium, for water resistance. Stairs These stairs are used for accessing the over ground area. They may be long but they save the energy of a lift.
The garden area Vegetable Patch Growing your own food minimises transport costs. The food is grown organically without manmade pesticides and fertilisers. The natural fertilisers are taken from the composting toilets. Natural pest control using natural methods including ladybirds. Rock base This stable rock base provides good insulation for the parts of the house that are underground and a stable foundation for the house . Fence Made from locally sourced renewable timbers, to minimise transport costs and CO2 emissions . Wave energy capture (ducks) These bobbing machines capture the energy of the waves as electricity through a dynamo system, which is renewable and does not produce CO2. The ducks could be produced from recycled metal as much as possible. Paved path Made from recycled car tyres which would otherwise end in landfill
Water wheel and vegetable patch Vegetable patch This an extension of the vegetable patch in the garden. It has more space for more food. Greenhouse This greenhouse is to grow all the foods not usually grown in the UK. It uses the same pesticides and fertilisers as the vegetable patch. Water wheel This is another environmentally friendly method to produce electricity without CO2. by turning a dynamo using water from the nearby river or tidal flows. Any extra power not needed can be sold to the national grid. Animal husbandry Pigs, hens and a goat for meat , eggs, dairy products and fertiliser.
Lifestyle This house is a house for the relaxing type, authors, animators and anyone who can work from home which could be a problem for anyone working in a city. Internet should be available. There could also be a garage where you would plug in an electric car to be powered by the electricity generated in the house. A boat could also be used for getting around. This house would be suitable for families with older children (due to the danger of the open water) particularly if there are nearby schools which could be reached by walking or by bike. Growing the bulk of food at this site would reduce journeys for shopping. Could it be Built? Above I have made a mock-up picture of what this house might look like on the coast. It is possible to build this house, but it would cost a lot, probably over one million pounds. The under water parts would be the most expensive as it is so hard to build in rock and close to sea when water is constantly trying to come in and out. It would in addition be difficult to get equipment out there, let alone the wind turbine and ducks. It might be better to have those assembled elsewhere by a skilled group of scientists/engineers. It is also possible that a suitable location would be hard to find. In conclusion it would be very hard to build and it would cost a lot, but, with some money, you could do it.
Showing under water part. Above I have made a mock-up picture of what this house might look like on the coast also showing the underwater section. The bedrooms and stairs are not visible, hidden in the rock. The strong rock will be needed to build in and the viewing port would give great underwater sights.
Conclusion & Evaluation My eco-house would be an idyllic place for someone in live or have a holiday, but in retrospect it might only be good for a certain life style where you don’t need to travel a lot , such as for a writer or a retired person, because it is probably quite isolated. Not only would travel from it to other places be inconvenient, but the transport costs to the environment might cancel out the other eco benefits of the house. Also, the underwater glass lounge might be too much of a heat loss problem and was only good on the drawing board and for style. Another major issue is coastal erosion: wave action, especially in the winter months, might cause damage or even flooding. Repairing damage would use more materials and energy, reducing the eco credentials of the house. Nevertheless, the location of the house allows it to have some great energy-generating methods, and I think it would be fun to live in.