Is being environmentally friendly a joke?

I was watching a program on Channel 4 the other nigh called Grand Designs, showing how people designed and built their own homes. It’s a wonderful show because that’s exactly what I want to do in the future and it gives you great ideas and things to avoid. Yet during this episode I was becoming more and more frustrated with the host who kept referring to this one house as very environmentally friendly, when quite clearly it was nothing like it.

The reference seemed to be in relation to the fact that they had imported wood from Canada from managed forests, imported it into Scotland.

Now I haven’t carried out deep research on this but there are managed forests in Scotland that won’t require the fuel to power a tanker from one side of the Atlantic to the other. In fact they were doing this with all of their materials, and the house itself?


Well with huge open plan rooms, high ceilings and lots of glass I am sure that this is inefficient when it comes to retaining heat.

Yet he kept repeating that phrase, and there wasn’t a solar panel, wind vane or water recycling system to be seen.

When I build my house I plan to attend to the following:

  • Build a lower ground floor, three quarters buried underground to pull heat from the earth into the building
  • Place solar panels across the roof and/or one external wall to generate electricity
  • Space permitting from the solar panels, cover the roof in a moss or grass to retain heat
  • Create water runs from the roof to a water filtering and purification system to collect rain water which can be stored and used as general tap water
  • Place a small wind vane to the side of the house to generate electricity
  • If near water, build a small water wheel to generate more electricity

Now that is environmentally friendly.

Then it struck me, as I walked around the impressive and mighty buildings of the company I work for, where are the environmentally friendly aspects of this development?

There are gardens and trees that have been planted, but the whole area was a green belt location before, so that rules out that one.

Granted, there is recycling of paper and plastic cups within the building, but overall that’s it, and yet the company obtained an ISO certification of environmental friendliness or some such thing.

Yet walking around I see two to three exterior up lights pointed at each tree with no indication of power source. They must be mains connected. Then there’s the rain or shine fountain pumps running continuously.

Try as I might there’s no way to see the roof, but from shots I’ve seen there are no solar panels up there, in fact none to be seen anywhere. Plenty of glass on that roof though.

Wind vanes? In a city where the council assists in the installation as well as grants and funding? None.

Every desk is lined with a monitor and computer and although the montors go on standby I’ve no idea if all the power management settings are turned on aggressively.

There are automatic blinds though. Blinds that randomly open and close and ensure next to no real light enters the building.

From usage though there are two things I can testify to being truly environmentally friendly. One is that there is a complete underground parking level, and the other is that the toilets have very short flushes.

It’s amazing that it takes so little to be considered environmentally friendly.

4 comments on “Is being environmentally friendly a joke?”

  1. Simone Reply

    Do you read the Metro Richard? Last week there was an article about tree houses of the future and I remembered this article.

  2. Simone Reply

    It was. They were saying that instead of cutting down trees to make way for new houses, why dont just build the house among the trees, from the artist’s impression of the treehouse it looks really very kewl. If you would bother to look for the article, it was the May 30 issue of the Metro.

  3. Dave Morrow Reply

    Apart from normal recycling, we put all our food waste into a ‘green cone’ which has been installed into the back garden. It breaks the food down into the soil.

    Except some flies got into it. And they have bred like….erm… flies. And it is only a matter of time before Carole tells me to dig it up and chuck it in the bin!

    So is the long term plan to build your own house then?

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