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South Shields homes inspired by penguins.

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emporor penguinsNo….they won’t be designed by The Joker either!

Antarctic penguins proved an unlikely inspiration for some of the greenest homes now under construction in the North East. Work is now under way on 21 carbon-negative homes at Reed Street, South Shields – and their design was partly inspired by the way penguins huddle together to survive extreme cold, says Lynda Peacock, Group Director of Development and Regeneration at Four Housing Group. Extreme conditions in the Antarctic see several thousand emperor penguins huddling together to reduce the amount of surface area exposed to the north wind, thus retaining heat in spite of the bitter cold.

The new homes are designed to imitate the penguins, with the main habitable rooms facing south and exposed northern elevations kept to a minimum. This maximises the natural heat and light from the sun, helping residents save money on bills as well as reducing the development’s environmental impact.

These new homes in Reed Street, South Shields will be primarily tax payer funded by The Homes and Community Agency and are promised to be “carbon negative” employing the very latest in “green building” techniques and will feature solar photovoltaic panels to produce some electricity (which I approve of), and a biomass heating system (which I am not so sure about) to produce heat in these super insulated houses opposite The Eureka.

I think I need to learn more, I have taken advantage of just about every scheme and tax payer funded initiative available to stuff my loft with several feet of insulation, filled my wall cavities with insulation, added pvcu double glazing and doors etc. etc. yet in my mainly south facing location I have yet to feel much benefit, we felt as cold this winter as we did in any other, so we probably used as much gas fired central heating as normal. Notwithstanding the self generated electricity that these houses may be provided with, and I have yet to try calculating how much CO2 the production of solar panels emits, there is the question of biomass heating systems which from what I read in Wikipedia could have an unbalancing effect on some eco-systems and the

combustion of biomass creates air pollutants and adds significant quantities of carbon to the atmosphere that may not be returned to the soil for many decades.

Additionally one has to consider the production of all of the building materials used to erect these homes, the heavy plant and diesel used to deliver materials to the site, the production of all of the tools required by construction workers, the production of all of the safety clothing that they will no doubt require during the building phase, what exactly is the cost of all of this in CO2 emissions?

Finally, on completion, there will be people living in these homes, decorating them with materials that emitted CO2 in their manufacture, eating food that had a cost in CO2 emissions, and unfortunately they will be breathing air and exhaling more CO2 into the atmosphere!

Can someone please explain to me what exactly is meant by a “carbon negative” penguin inspired flat, and which Joker invented the term?

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Written by curly

April 18, 2011 at 7:11 pm

One Response

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  1. Several points on this issue.

    Firstly, the earth has finite resources, therefore the fixation with carbon neutrality is somewhat misplaced. Everyone should be concerned with sustainabilty.

    Secondly, there no academic definition of the terms carbon footprint or carbon neutral. The term carbon negative is simply spin or lies depending on your view point.

    Thirdly, photovoltaic cells are simply not green technology at all. If it was not for the fact that the government, or rather the consumer, pay over the odds for the electricity generated no one would have them. There is a grant for generating the electricity and the consumer pays for any surplus that makes its way into the national grid.

    Fourthly, the chemicals and plastics used in the manufacture of photovoltaic cells ensure that this is not a green industry, nor is it a sustainable industry.

    However, looking at the bright side, at least the article you read did not include the ridiculous comments by the chief honcho of the Quango that is providing the majority of the cash. He claimed these homes produced more power than they used. Impossible. Though our council seems to think it is. See the gazette article printed Tuesday 1 September 2009.

    The bottom line which you seem to have picked up on, Curly, is that anyone can construct super efficient new homes – but what about the square miles of inefficient older properties. This is the issue that the council and the government do not address but should.

    Steve

    April 19, 2011 at 10:21 am


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