Sustainable, solar panels

Sustainability has been a hot topic within the Architectural industry for some time now, with solar panels becoming popular over the last 10 years. However, sustainability has now developed into so much more than just using solar panels or using different ‘eco-friendly’ materials. 

The UK government’s 2050 zero-carbon emissions commitment is encouraging architects to develop houses and buildings that won’t need any updating to meet this target. 

One of these housing developments in Wales by Loyn & Co is using a number of different zero-carbon techniques to create a whole development with zero-carbon emissions. 

Loyn & Co have proposed to use a mixture of locally sourced timber, stone and reclaimed brick as the main materials for the buildings, even the foundations are being created out of low carbon concrete. Any emissions they do incur will be offset with the power produced on the site through solar panels. The aim is for this to continue once residents have moved in, with any power used from the national grid being replaced. The homes will also come complete with an electric car charging point and bike shed as standard, and the introduction of a car club to try to reduce the number of private cars.  

Using local materials in Uganda, builders put together Kliment Halsband’s vision of a self-sustaining health facility. The facility utilises red brick, fired from the local clay ground, with perforated screen walls providing ventilation. Covering the entire building and courtyard are ‘trees’ of solar panels spread across the roof to provide zero-carbon energy to the facility, as well as back up power storage. This solar panel design has been taken from the surrounding banana trees, providing shade to anyone underneath. 

The Powerhouse Company have designed an office with a difference, an office in the port of Rijnhaven in Rotterdam. The floating office has been designed to help reduce and change with climate change. The Powerhouse Company will achieve this by using locally sourced timber for the majority of the building. The timber build will then float with the rising water levels, preventing flooding. The roof of this building allows the office to function off the grid, with solar panels on one side and vegetation on the other side, keeping the building cool.  

It’s been an aim in the UK to create low to zero carbon schools and other government buildings, however, this has proven to be harder than anticipated. One school has achieved zero-carbon status, Hackbridge Primary School in London was designed by Architype and built to be one of the first Passivhaus schools in the UK. The school not only utilises large photovoltaic arrays, but also a ground source heat pump buried under the entry walkway into the school providing hot water and heating to the school. The nature of a Passivhaus indicates that the building its self is incredibly well insulated, on this site they used recycled paper to further lower the carbon footprint.

One of the common materials now used to create zero-carbon emissions is locally sourced timber, the timber locks in the carbon dioxide that it has absorbed throughout the tree’s life. 

As not all countries can easily source strong enough wood to support a structure, to ensure zero-carbon emissions builds it’s vital that local materials are used, such as the red brick in Uganda. 

The other important factor to consider when designing a new structure is to future proof the design, such as the solar panels on all the above-mentioned buildings. 

JDW Architects

Here at JDW Architects, our longstanding aim is to provide an intelligent, rigorous architecture which is practical as well as affordable. We add value through imaginative, innovative and positive design solutions. Contact us to find out more.

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