We were recently asked to speak at a local sustainability event, the topic…how our buildings can be more sustainable.
I got right to the task of outlining my talk; I wanted to cover so much, but with only 20 minutes, I knew I had to be selective. Here’s are some of the topics I covered with links to some of the incredible initiatives that are challenging the status quo both in the UK and Europe.
We face so many crises…are homes part of the problem?
Homes lie at the centre of many of our most pressing crises – housing, cost of living, health and of course the environmental crises! House prices continue to increase whilst wages stagnate, rents are increasing over 4.5% A YEAR. Fuel poverty impacts 1 in 10 households and that number is increasing every week! Our health is dramatically impacted by our homes; how they are built and where they are built affect our physical and mental wellbeing on a daily basis. On top of all this our buildings and infrastructure contribute over 25% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.
So what can we do about this?
I always view convergence points like this as leverage points, a place where change can create positive ripple effects in numerous areas. So housing can be part of the solution! More specifically, how can WikiHouse be part of the solution?
What can we change?
At Digital Woodoo we are focusing on enabling:
- INCREASING the supply of energy efficient and affordable homes – we can help reduce heating costs (mitigating fuel poverty) and reduce the operation carbon burden (emissions generated through power generation to heat our homes) of our homes.
- INCREASING use of sustainable materials and construction methods – Reduce the embodied carbon ‘cost’ of our buildings. and reduce construction waste.
- INCREASING the provision of housing that supports the wellbeing of people and local communities
- INCREASING diversity of consumer choice and influence conscious consumerism – We want to reduce the lack of environmental information related to buildings and help consumers make more environmental friendly decisions.
Innovation in WHAT We Build:
Of course we talked about WikiHouse’s many benefits and how it aligns to these goals. You can find out more about WikiHouses credentials in our other blog and also on the WikiHouse website.
We recently completed a project on our material supplier list where we assessed the ‘carbon cost’ of our materials. Once this was complete, we ran calculations on some of our products comparing the best and worst materials, the results were quite surprising! Some of our comparisons resulted in nearly 5 TONNES CO2e difference just through selecting different materials! More on this research work coming soon!
Innovation in HOW We Build:
Modularising buildings allows homes to ‘grow’ with their occupants. This allows people to live more economically in just the space you need. There’s no need to buy a bigger house than you current needs, as modular houses are designed to be able to easily extended.
Our WikiHouse Nest TinyHomes are designed to enable the easy addition of an additional bedroom modules when needed. With WikiHouse’s rapid built times, this extension could go up in a matter of days and be habitable within a month.
An additional benefit of modular housing, is that there is no need to move house! Enabling more people to stay in the communities they love, whilst adapting the home to suit individual changing needs over time.
Mass Customised Housing & Empowering Self Builders:
The first WikiHouse neighbourhood in the world was built in Almere in the Netherlands using the WikiHouse system.
The development site was divided into individual plots with a shared menu of WikiHouse room modules. Residents then used these modules to design and build their own individualised homes.
This is really exciting and definitely that could be more common in the UK.
What about integrating small homes or gathering places within our existing infrastructure? This could reducing the impact of land & infrastructure costs. Regenerating brownfield land whilst reducing use of greenbelt land. These homes and buildings are then close to local services, amenities, public transport links and within existing communities.
Above is an example of a community-led opt-in densification scheme by We Can Make in Knowle West, Bristol. Here tiny homes were cited in the underutilised back gardens of existing homes. This was a community-led initiative that was incredibly popular. In fact, when the planning application was submitted, the scheme received over 40 letters of support for the applications. Due to its success there are plans to build more homes like this in and around the neighbourhood.
Why can’t we do this in other areas too?
Optimistic For the Future…
I am optimistic for the future, the amount of innovation occurring in architecture and construction just now is encouraging. We feel that WikiHouse is offering an alternative to many who otherwise would not be able to build their own homes and want to see more and more WikiHouses across the country.
If you think you have a project and might like to use WikiHouse, why not book a FREE chat to us, just click this link to book a call 👉 Book a Call