Changing Places tells stories about greening Britain - initiatives by individuals, local communities, government or multi-national corporations that contribute to a sustainable future.
Friday 24 February 2006
The building blocks of the future?
Dylan Winter explores whether it is possible to build affordable homes and offices which can incorporate environmentally friendly practices.
Bricks and blocks
At Bath University's Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, researchers are investigating the potential of bricks and blocks made from natural plant fibres as well as panels constructed with straw bales. These products are put through a battery of tests to ensure they have the necessary strength and stability to be used in construction. A recent test on a rendered straw bale panel simulated the effect of a significant wind load. The panel withstood four times the wind load without suffering any noticeable change in condition. The Natural Building Technology Research Group, University of Bath
State of the art
Farmers Chris and Simon Redding have converted their former stone barns and cattle sheds to become a state of the art and eco-friendly business park near Weston-super-Mare. The buildings are unique in their construction as they have used bigger bales of straw providing a wall of insulation almost a metre thick. They also harvest rain water from the roofs for the toilets and extract heat from the ground. The Grange Business Park
Mike Grigg has built himself a very affordable solar house with no central heating in Cornwall. Nearly all the heating and hot water for the house comes from capturing the energy of the sun via a huge south facing roof. Clever insulation, reflective walls and a heat recovery system ensures that no warmth goes to waste. Article about Mike Grigg's solar house
Learning about sustainable construction
The Genesis project based at the Somerset College of Arts and Technology in Taunton is an educational facility where individuals, organisations and students can learn about the ways in which buildings can be more sustainable. The purpose-built Genesis Centre has five demonstration pavilions showing the variety of endless sustainable options for building everything from air-flush toilets, recycled denim jeans as insulating material, recycled yogurt pots vanity units and living rubble roofs. The Genesis Project, Somerset College of Arts and Technology
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites
Changing Places has been replaced by the new environmental series Shared Earth - celebrating the natural world and exploring what we can do to help conserve wildlife and reduce our footprint on the planet.