The Ecologist


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Roofscape: the 'BedZED' (Beddington Zero Energy Development), the UK's largest and first carbon-neutral eco-community, was completed in 2002. Photo: Tom Chance from Peckham via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).

Scrapping 'zero carbon' homes is policy vandalism

Gordon Walker

20th July 2015

The UK Government has ditched the requirement for new homes to be 'zero carbon' from April 2016, writes Gordon Walker. With builders already geared up to meet the challenge, this needless reversal will raise energy bills and carbon emissions for a century or more to come, and send out all the wrong signals for the Paris climate talks. more...
Insulating homes is much less glamorous than building a nuclear power station - but a much better national investment for health, comfort, jobs, climate and a flourishing economy! Photo: Martin Pettitt via Flickr (CC BY).

Ten election ideas to bring on the 'green economy'

David Powell / Friends of the Earth

4th May 2015

Tired of politicians' platitudes, defensive pledges and blinkered vision? As the General Election approaches, we desperately need to expand our discussion of 'the economy' beyond its usual narrow confines, writes David Powell. And if they won't get the ball rolling, he will ... more...
Destruction driven by the 20% VAT penalty on property refurbishment? Demolition of Wychwood House on the Woodberry Down Estate, London in June 2007. Photo:  Sarflondondunc via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Use VAT to reward 'green' refurbishment - not demolition

Duncan Baker-Brown

19th March 2015

Another budget, another missed opportunity: the VAT system charges the full 20% on home upgrades, but 'zero-rates' developers who demolish and rebuild, writes Duncan Baker-Brown. Instead we should target VAT to reward those who meet 'green' criteria for energy efficiency and sustainability. Chancellors in waiting, listen up! more...
Yes, this new luxury apartment development really is built of straw bales - the new high-precision, pre-fabricated variety, made by Modcell in one of its 'flying factories'. Photo:

Straw homes are a cheap and green fix for the housing crisis

Pete Walker

10th February 2015

Straw is cheap, plentiful, eco-friendly and an excellent insulator, writes Pete Walker - and officially certified prefabricated straw bale building systems are challenging traditional brick construction. So why aren't straw bale houses mushrooming on building sites across the country? Maybe they are ... more...
Tiny houses at Hatteras, North Carolina. Photo: Bill Dickinson via Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Sick to death of consumerism and debt? Find freedom in a tiny house

Samuel Alexander

10th January 2015

There is a simple solution to the problems of rampant consumerism, debt and a lifetime of servitude, writes Samuel Alexander - radical down-sizing to a truly tiny house. For a start, it's only big enough for the things you really need. And it's so cheap to build, that it's paid for from a month or two's salary. Just one question - what will you do with your freedom? more...
A 'net zero carbon' development of 780 homes at Graylingwell Park, Chichester, with a centralised gas-fired combined heat and power (CHP) system run by an independent energy services company. Photo: Zero Carbon Hub.

Critics denounce latest 'zero carbon homes' exemptions as 'nonsensical'

Alex Stevenson

2nd December 2014

With continuing Coalition in-fighting over the troubled 'zero carbon homes' programme, writes Alex Stevenson, a plan is afoot to allow homes on smaller developments to meet a less demanding energy performance standard - but still carry the 'zero-carbon' label. Critics denounce the plan as 'nonsensical'. more...
Green and pleasant - GPT head office, Sydney. Photo: Woods Bagot.

Putting people at the heart of climate-friendly buildings

John Alker

24th September 2014

Energy efficiency in office buildings struggles to gain the attention of top management, writes John Alker - because energy is too cheap to really matter. But with 90% of operating costs spent on staff, show that green building design makes employees happier and more productive, and you're really onto something ... more...
Copenhagen Harbour Bath designed by JDS Architects. Photo: Lucy Reynell.

Urban Plunge - open swimming in the heart of the city

Jane Withers

13th September 2014

With the growing trend for natural swimming in cities new opportunities are opening for architects and designers to create dramatic, inspiring, enjoyable new public spaces in urban waterways, writes Jane Withers. And it's the subject of a new exhibition at London's Roca London Gallery ... more...
How did we miss that one? Destruction in Gaza, July 2014. Photo: Oxfam International via Flickr.

$6 billion Gaza reconstruction aid will be ‘made in Israel’


15th September 2014

As the world gears up to finance Gaza's $6bn reconstruction after Operation Protective Edge, an EU source has revealed that Israel will earn billions of euros by making sure that all the steel, concrete and other materials and other aid are sourced in Israel and benefit Israeli companies. more...
A forest of giant bamboo near Kyoto, Japan. Photo: Trey Ratcliff via Flickr.

Steel and concrete, give over to the new kid - bamboo

Dirk Hebel

4th September 2014

The global construction industry is dominated by steel and concrete, writes Dirk Hebel - but it doesn't have to be that way. There's a strong, fast-growing, climate-friendly, sustainable material ready and waiting. Bamboo could be the basis of a whole new 'green' building industry, that also provides abundant rural livelihoods. more...
The kitchen / dining room of Brickfields, a green development in London. Photo: Living in Space.

Breaking the mould for eco homes

Ryan Kohn

16th August 2014

There is no better time to put the 'green' into building than at the outset of the design phase, writes Ryan Kohn. And to get it there we need to raise awareness of sustainable technologies, and offer incentives, rather than loop-holes, for developers. Buyers too must learn to appreciate the long term value of green ... and demand the highest standards. more...
Hauling sweet chestnut roundwood up the steep include. Photo: Moulsecoomb Forest Garden.

A green building in a green forest shade

Jan Goodey

28th June 2014

A Sussex-based forest gardening project has overcome adversity to celebrate its 20th anniversary, writes Jan Goodey. And now it features one of the most eco of eco-builds in Britain, using all local timber, clay, straw ... and wine bottles. more...

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What house builders will no longer have to do - the 'BedZED' Beddington Zero Carbon Development in south London. Photo: BioRegional via Flickr.

Government caves in to developers on 'zero carbon' homes

Oliver Tickell

4th June 2014

The Government has gutted its 'zero carbon home' standard - builders will be able to 'zero the carbon' through an offsetting scheme - rather than by installing more insulation, or renewable technologies like solar PV or solar water heating. more...
More of this to come ... the western rear end of Jetty East parking lot collapses under the storm surge from Hurricane Ike, 2008. Photo: Ed Hart via Flickr.

Florida's collapse will set in within a 30-year mortgage cycle

Harold R. Wanless

3rd June 2014

We are most certainly witnessing the onset of a rapid pulse of sea level rise, writes Harold R Wanless. And low lying areas - like southeast Florida - will be the first to know about it. So how come they're building there like there's no tomorrow? more...
Horse chestnut leaves and fruits in autumn. A drawing for The New Sylva by Sarah Simblet.

The New Sylva - a celebration of Britain's trees

Colin Tudge

30th May 2014

The New Sylva is a worthy successor to John Evelyn's original of 1644, writes Colin Tudge, with superb line drawings and a text that looks more to the future of Britain's trees, than their past. A book for ladies, gentlemen, 'meer woodsmen' and 'ordinary rusticks' alike. more...
Howsham Mill - love at first sight in 2003.

The 'green' watermill restoration that's powering 30 homes

Helen Leavey

3rd May 2014

Ten years ago, Mo and Dave fell in love, writes Helen Leavey - with a ruinous but romantic water mill in Yorkshire. It was the beginning of a fabulous restoration adventure, and the mill is now an exemplar of renewable energy generation and a thriving education centre. more...

Road building programme gets green light by stealth

Jan Goodey

5th October, 2012

With a government seemingly intent on pushing through the latest road-building programme via its localism agenda campaigners are readying themselves for combined resistance using legal experts, alliance groupings and direct action more...
The beginners guide to… creating a low carbon home

The beginners guide to… creating a low carbon home

Ruth Styles

24th April, 2012

From reducing energy consumption to a full-scale retrofit, Ruth Styles explains how to make your low carbon dream a reality more...
Are straw bales the future of sustainable building?

Are straw bales the future of sustainable building?

Mark Briggs

20th April, 2012

Straw bale is a low impact, low carbon building material making strides towards mainstream acceptance. So is it about time we took notice? Mark Briggs reports more...
tenerife bio home

Beat the heat: how a new type of eco home is helping tackle global warming

Paul Miles

3rd April, 2012

As climate change speeds up, the question of how to adapt our homes to hotter temperatures is becoming increasingly important. Now, a pioneering project on the island of Tenerife has been set up to address those concerns. Paul Miles reports more...

The A to Z of retrofitting

Chloe Barrow

27th March, 2012

Cutting emissions at home doesn’t just help the planet; it saves you money too. Chloe Barrow explains how to get started more...

Eco cement: the world's favourite building material gets a green-over

Paul Miles

14th February, 2012

Cement manufacturers are among the world’s biggest polluters and produce more emissions per capita than aviation. So how can you ensure that the cement you use isn’t wrecking the planet? more...

Why Glasgow's M74 road extension will increase air pollution

Stan Blackley

28th June, 2011

The decision to press ahead with the controversial construction was the worst environmental decision of devolution, says Stan Blackley of Friends of the Earth more...
A drain

Susanne Charlesworth: we must use sustainable drainage systems to green our cities

Dr Susanne Charlesworth

7th February, 2011

Our ageing drainage systems need to be reinvented. Instead of trying to rush water into our sewer systems we should be making use of it to reduce flooding and encourage green space more...

Roundwood timber framing: the greener way to build

Maddy Harland

19th October, 2010

Using our native softwoods and 'in the round' construction, this innovative technique results in beautiful buildings with high environmental credentials more...


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