Friday, 16 October 2009

Green Space is Good For You!!

There is more evidence that living near a 'green space' has health benefits.Research in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health says the impact is particularly noticeable in reducing rates of mental ill health.

The annual rates of 15 out of 24 major physical diseases were also significantly lower among those living closer to green spaces. One environmental expert said the study confirmed that green spaces create 'oases' of improved health around them.

The researchers from the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam looked at the health records of 350,000 people registered with 195 family doctors across the Netherlands.

Only people who had been registered with their GP for longer than 12 months were included because the study assumed this was the minimum amount of time people would have to live in an environment before any effect of it would be noticeable.

Health impact

The percentages of green space within a one and three kilometre (0.62 and 1.86 miles) radius of their home were calculated using their postcode.

On average, green space accounted for 42% of the residential area within one kilometre (0.62 miles) radius and almost 61% within a three kilometre (1.86 miles) radius of people's homes.

Coronary heart disease
Neck, shoulder, back, wrist and hand complaints
Depression and anxiety
Respiratory infections and asthma
Migraine and vertigo
Stomach bugs and urinary tract infections
Unexplained physical symptoms
And the annual rates for 24 diseases in 7 different categories were calculated.

The health benefits for most of the diseases were only seen when the greenery was within a one kilometre ( 0.62 miles ) radius of the home.

The exceptions to this were anxiety disorders, infectious diseases of the digestive system and medically unexplained physical symptoms which were seen to benefit even when the green spaces were within three kilometres of the home.

The biggest impact was on anxiety disorders and depression.

Anxiety disorders

The annual prevalence of anxiety disorders for those living in a residential area containing 10% of green space within a one kilometre (0.62 miles) radius of their home was 26 per 1000 whereas for those living in an area containing 90% of green space it was 18 per 1000.

For depression the rates were 32 per 1000 for the people in the more built up areas and 24 per 1000 for those in the greener areas.At least part of this 'oasis' effect probably reflects changes in air quality

Professor Barbara Maher, Lancaster Environment Centre
The researchers also showed that this relation was strongest for children younger than 12.They were 21% less likely to suffer from depression in the greener areas.

Two unexpected findings were that the greener spaces did not show benefits for high blood pressure and that the relation appeared stronger for people aged 46 to 65 than for the elderly.The researchers think the green spaces help recovery from stress and offer greater opportunities for social contacts.They say the free physical exercise and better air quality could also contribute.

Dr Jolanda Maas of the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam, said: "It clearly shows that green spaces are not just a luxury but they relate directly to diseases and the way people feel in their living environments."

"Most of the diseases which are related to green spaces are diseases which are highly prevalent and costly to treat so policy makers need to realise that this is something they may be able to diminish with green spaces."

from bbc news website

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Green Grants Machine

A Green Grants web site you can join to sign up for a newsletter on green issues and funding information is Green Grants Machine part of the company J4B's funding consultancy in the UK. Not a huge amount of information but a useful update.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Crossways 'Zero Carbon Home'

Designed by Richard Hawkes, Crossway is one of the first zero carbon houses in the UK. The building explores the uniqueness of 'place' as well as harnessing solar energy to generate all its own electricity and thermal energy.

The building demonstrates how contemporary design can celebrate local materials and crafts and integrate new technologies to produce a highly sustainable building that sits lightly on the Earth

The earth piled onto the parabolic arch has just been sown with wildflower seeds taken from local Kent sources including Marden nature reserve to give it the correct flora and perhaps even eventually Orchids may be found growing on the roof!!

PV-T Photovoltaic Thermal heat & electricity generating system supplied by the Carbon Free Group

Main Bedroom with bathroom!

Photo a little dark but shows the inside of the main structural arch faced with locally sourced clay tiles

Above and below various architects models used during the design process

A X section of the triple glazing units

Visit Hawkes Architecture for more information

The building featured on Channel 4's 'Grand Designs' programme and full details of the build can be seen here

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Homes for Good Show 17th April 2009

Below is a press release for the excellent 'Homes for Good' show which I attended in February 2007. This was breaking new ground when launched some years ago now, but is annually put on by the Ecos Trust an excellent sustainable living organisation in the West of England. I had hoped to bring this exhibition to the South East & Kent but 'time' with a full time job & family prevented this although one of the people working with me at the time has gone on to launch an eco village section at the Kent County Show more of which nearer the time.

The Ecos Trust who organises the sustainable building, gardening and lifestyle exhibition is choosing Westpoint Arena, Exeter to host its sixth annual show. The ‘Homes for Good’ Exhibition 17th – 18th April 2009, will showcase new and revolutionary sustainable products that won’t cost the earth!

Charlie Luxton, Broadcaster and Designer known for presenting programmes such as BBC2 s ‘Restored to Glory’, will be supporting the event and says “Our homes are in the front line of our fight against climate change, making them more sustainable can not be left solely to government. All home owners and building professionals need to take responsibility for the planet and tackle the problem, thinking globally but acting locally. Homes for Good is educating and empowering people to do just that”. Charlie is visiting the show on Friday 17th April.

The show attracts Professionals enquiring about new sustainable building techniques and members of the public embarking on self -build and renovation or simply seeking advice about an eco-friendly lifestyle. Visitors will benefit from a range of free demonstrations and advice over the two days including trying their hand at lime rendering and mixing cob.

Homes for Good 2009 will offer practical solutions to becoming ‘green’ and promotes a mainstream market for sustainable materials, designs and services. Corina Reay, Ecos Trust Projects Manager says “ Homes for Good offers quality ‘green’ products to the building and gardening industry, and home owners and supports businesses with sound environmental practices. This year’s show will provide plenty of ideas for your home and garden. Whether you have a small field or just a window box, our example garden centre piece will provide ideas and inspiration on a range of sustainable gardening techniques”.

The event will be sponsored by Energy Saving Trust (EST), Devon County Council, Exeter City Council and the Forestry Commission.

For more information please visit Homes for Good

Below are some images from the show at weston Super mare in 2007 taken by my old Digital Works camera so not very good!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Green Building Bible

These books are the perfect starting place, your first port of call to help you ‘get to grips’ with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

We all have to learn to build and remodel our living environments in such a way as to drastically reduce our collective burden on the planet. As each year passes by, the opportunities to make a difference are decreasing, and most scientists are now agreed on this point. The time left to embrace a lower impact lifestyle is ticking away.

There are no easy answers and many different approaches, but in these books you will find encouraging, practical and immediately useful hands-on information from both the long-term green building professionals and enthusiastic newcomers to the movement. The trends’ chapter will provide you with a snapshot of where we are now and how things are likely to develop in the near future.

Volume 2 goes beyond the introductions and delves into the more in-depth design detailing of buildings. It also provides easy to understand explanations of how some of the new technologies actually work. The book covers areas such as site layout, building envelope and fabric, renewable technologies, environmental factors, lighting strategies, heating and cooling systems and lots more.

Both these excellent books are on offer at the moment at £17 for the two and post free in the UK! see Green Building Bible web site for more information.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Free Event !!! Ecobuild 2009

Conference programme summary:

Visited this event 2 years ago, the 'Eco'(common sense) section of the event is growing and its free to attend you just need to book up!


Tuesday 03 March
What price sustainability?
Turning red into green
How low can you go?
The future for house building
Green building on the world stage

Wednesday 04 March
The challenge for construction
Zero carbon for all: a new code for sustainable buildings
Searching for a sustainable Britain
Who’s got the plan?
Managing water in a changing climate
How to break the circle of blame: who pays for green property?

Thursday 05 March
Refurbishment rises to the top: a new focus on existing homes
Refurbished, re- purposed
Managing buildings: counting the carbon, counting the cost
Counting the codes: regulations roundup

Sessions hosted by the UK Green Building Council
What price sustainability?
How low can you go?
Green building on the world stage
Zero carbon for all: a new code for sustainable buildings
Refurbishment rises to the top: a new focus on existing homes
Refurbished, re- purposed

who exhibits?

Over 800 exhibitors will take part in Ecobuild 2009, showcasing the widest range of sustainable products and services for construction and the built environment, and representing the entire spectrum of suppliers, including:

renewable energy & micro generation, including solar-thermal, PV, wind, CHP, heat pumps
heating & ventilation
water management, including SUDs, green roofs, rainwater harvesting, permeable hard landscaping
natural materials
building structure
building envelopes
building substructure, foundations & groundworks
building systems
doors, windows & glazing
finishes, coatings & paints
interiors & fittings
lighting – interior & exterior
building management systems & intelligent building systems
mechanical & electrical services
recycling and waste management systems
architectural & design services
building performance services
refurbishment services
planning services