passive solar house

As summer rolls around again, my house heats up and I wish I lived somewhere else. Fortuitously, I have plans to do just that!

too hot for cats

The Back Paddock behind my house will be no more. I’m building a small (3×1) passive solar, energy efficient house. If you’re new here, the Back Paddock is the empty lot adjoining my house.

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Loving Libraries

Library Lovers Day If you’ve had enough of the consumerism of Valentine’s Day (so maybe Hallmark didn’t invent this celebration or even Mother’s Day, but they certainly enjoy the profits) you can celebrate Library Lover’s Day on 14 February. Libraries have always been eco-minded because they lend books, CDs, DVDs, etc, with many people using the same item over and over, decreasing the need for each person to buy their own copy. Consumption uses finite resources and produces greenhouse gas emissions.

I’m particularly enamoured of libraries because I’m a librarian. I don’t work in a library right now so I visit my local library once a week to get my reading and movie viewing fix. And my research on teenagers’ reading habits means I also frequent Curtin University Library. Remember to visit a nearby library to celebrate Library Lover’s Day.

To improve the eco-friendliness of libraries even more, some newly built libraries have incorporated sustainable building practices in their design. I read about two such libraries in the November 2007 issue of Incite, the magazine of ALIA, my professional association.

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Green School Days

Next week school goes back and this reminded me of some sustainable schools I read about last year. I’m a librarian doing research on teenagers’ reading habits so I read School Library Journal. The September 2007 issue had an article on sustainably designed schools Going Green: Eco-friendly Schools by Debra Lau Whelan.

In late 2005, the New York City Council created a set of sustainable standards for public construction projects, making New York the first and largest school district to have green school design, construction, and operation guidelines required by law. [1]

The schools Whelan writes about are all in the US and have some or all of:

  • wind and solar power generation
  • geothermal heating and cooling systems
  • irrigation ponds
  • constructed wetlands that recycle water
  • natural lighting
  • exterior solar shading made from reclaimed timber
  • paints and furnishings made from low-volatile organic compounds
  • vegetable/kitchen gardens and composting
  • eco-friendly technology such as energy efficient flat-screen monitors [1].

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Sustainable Building Design

It is no good just talking, writing or reading about sustainability. It requires us to do something toward that critical and vital end point – a sustainable world – so that we can all look our grandchildren in the eye with something like a clear conscience – Derek Wrigley [1]

For a number of years I’ve been interested in sustainable building design and I have a long term plan to build my own sustainable designed house. The first real-life example I visited was the Subiaco Sustainable Demonstration Home in suburban Perth. It was built by Subiaco Council, but is now privately owned. I’ve often wondered why more newly built houses aren’t designed using sustainable principles. I realise most such houses are individually designed by architects and this increases their cost, but some design aspects, such as passive solar principles, seem to me to be just common sense.

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