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Case Study for Sustainable/Ecological Housing

In response to the growing consumer demand for sustainably conscious housing, a number of different sustainable, ecological, eco-friendly, or low-energy housing options have been created.  With eco-homes, such as the Osborne Demonstration House in Watford, developers seek to make individual single-family homes more energy efficient using innovative architectural design and start-of-the-art appliances (Appendices F, G, H; Energy Saving Trust, 2007; Osborne, 2006).  Green construction schemes like Millennium Green in Nottinghamshire, extrapolate the concept of the eco-home to an entire housing development (Appendices I, J, K; Freerain, Ltd., 2007; Sponge, 2005).  Bed ZED in London is an example of a large sustainable development that features energy efficient homes, community facilities, and workspaces, trying to amalgamate sustainability, notions of "living a green lifestyle," and new urbanism (White, 2002).  Tinker's Bubble in south Somerset, a low-impact settlement, takes a different approach to green living by minimizing the ecological footprint of the development and its residents. 

This report examines a recently constructed sustainable housing development in the UK, the Hockerton Housing Project (HHP).  The first section presents a description of the selected project with photographs and sketches.  The second section discusses the sustainable characteristics (features of design and materials selected) of the development and building structures.  The last section offers the results of the sustainable efforts.  Attached appendices feature sketches, design specifications, photographs, and other pertinent information for the HHP and two other sustainable projects, the Osborne Demonstration and Millennium Green.

The Sustainable efforts of the HHP seem to have yielded positive results.  Figure 5 compares the energy usage of homes at the Hockerton development to that of conventional housing and homes built under zero heating and zero CO2 schemes.  Hockerton homes consume one-third the energy of conventionally built housing units and about one-half the energy of zero CO2 homes.

Through the use of innovative design and high thermal mass construction materials, Hockerton creators have been able to stabilize the indoor temperatures of the homes, adding to the units' energy efficiency and the comfort of the residents.  Figures 6 and 7 show the temperatures in the bathroom, kitchen, conservatory, and bedroom during cold and warm weeks.  During a cold week when the outside temperature is from -5°C to 10°C, the temperatures of the internal rooms are nearly stable at 16°C.  This indoor temperature stability is impressive considering none of the housing units have central or secondary heating systems (HHP, 2007).  During a warm week when the outside temperature is from -10°C to 35°C, the temperatures of the internal rooms average 25°C.  The units' orientation, well-ventilating design, and self-shading additions (e.g., blinds) reduce sun glare and the amount of heat entering the homes.

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