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A Drill Down Introduction To Sustainable Design

STEPHEN DIGNAM

B.A. Hons.in Interior Architecture

GRIFFITH COLLEGE DUBLIN JANUARY 2010


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

Davie Phillips, Mike Kavangh, Niall & Terri Brosnan, Greg Allen,Gavin Harte,
Colin & Deborah Ahearn, Deirdre Doherty, Dr. Meabh O Regan, Maureen Dignam,
Thomas Cleary, Damian at Creative Binders
and all others who had to endure my rants on this subject.

Stephen Dignam February 2010.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction 1

1. This Greenhose we call home 5

1.1 Green House Gases

1.2 Eco-Systems

1.3 Man

2. A Bitter Pill Or Green Snake Oil 9

2.1 Anthropogenic Climate Change

2.2 Natural Climate Change

2.3 A New Perspective

3. Sustainability 18

3.1 Triple Bottom Line

3.2 Sustainability and Cities

3.3 Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems

4. Case Study: The Village 24

4.1 General overview of the ecological charter

4.2 Edible Landscapes

4.3 The Farm

4.4 Housing Area

5. Conclusion 36

Reference 39
LIST OF FIGURES

Fig. 1. Fari, Z. 2009 . Greenhouse gas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Available at: http://
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_gas [Accessed February 15, 2010].

Fig. 2 . The Village - Building Sustainable Community - Home. Available at: http://www.
thevillage.ie/ [Accessed February 14, 2010].

Fig. 3. Dignam, S.2010 .Cloughjordan Primary School

Fig. 4. The Village - Building Sustainable Community - Home. Available at: http://www.
thevillage.ie/ [Accessed February 14, 2010].

Fig. 5. The Village - Building Sustainable Community - Home. Available at: http://www.
thevillage.ie/ [Accessed February 14, 2010].

Fig. 6. Dignam, S.2010 . Village lake

Fig. 7. Dignam, S.2010 .District Heating System

Fig. 8. Scandinavian Homes Ltd, Sustainable village project Cloughjordan. Available at:
http://www.scanhome.ie/cloughjordan.php [Accessed February 10, 2010].

Fig. 9. Dignam, S.2010 . Timber clad House.

Fig. 10. The Village. Available at: http://www.irishecohomes.ie/TheVillage/TheVillage.htm


[Accessed February 15, 2010].

Fig. 11.Dignam, S.2010 .Lime Plaster Finish

Fig. 12. The Village. Available at: http://www.irishecohomes.ie/TheVillage/TheVillage.htm


[Accessed February 15, 2010].

Fig. 13.Dignam, S.2010 . A Rated triple Glazing


INTRODUCTION
INTRODUCTION

This planet is dated at being between three to four billion years old. It has experienced many
dramatic changes along the course of its long history; from the formation and destruction of
landmasses due to tectonic movements and volcanic eruptions; that have led to the creation of

our now existing mountains, continents, and islands.


Even though there were extremely higher levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases
present in the atmosphere, the compositions are thought to have sustained some form of life.

Over thousands of millions of years the earth has seen the evolution of species and their extinc-
tion from different cataclysmic events, due to an asteroid collisions with the planet, and acute

climate changes which would have caused severe ice ages or ‘Snowball Earths’.
Between the present time and the last 10,000 to 15,000 years, we are now said to be in an in-
terglacial state (a period of relative warmth compared to the ice ages); this period of climatic

stability has led to the stable growth of the human race and furthered the evolution of other
species.
Our modern world is less than 600 years old and has witnessed man making leaps in progress,

from the discoveries and inventions leading to the technological advances of today, that would
not have been imaginable a hundred years ago.
Our lifestyles have evolved from being the hunter gather, to farmer, to the mass consumerist,

which has become a great part of our culture today.


Over the last thirty years questions about the future of our world have begun to trickle down
into the imagination. It is a question concerning the world environment and how we exploit and

utilise our natural resources.


Energy use, pollution, deforestation, population growth, and global warming, are amongst a
broad range of concerns that now commonly fall under the narrow heading of ‘Green’ issues.

This topic has become a subject of great debate since the 1970’s, gathering intense momentum
in the last decade. It has also become such a divisive argument that it must command serious
examination.

But how real is this incidence of climate change? And, are we in imminent danger? Or, are we
just in the midst of a purely natural phenomenon?

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Will, as some believe, the earth just heal itself as has been proven by history, and, will this be

aided through the use of emerging alternative technologies and mans ingenuity? Or, are we now

at a point where we at least have to sit up and take stock of the apparent destructive nature of

our lifestyles?

In 1987 a report was published by the World Commission on Environment and Development

(WCED) titled ‘Our Common Future’.

The aim of the report was to address growing concern about the accelerating deterioration of

the human environment and natural resources, and the consequences of that deterioration for

economic and social development.

In this report the definition of sustainability was defined as; “those paths of social, economic and

political progress that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs.” (Brundtland, 1987, pg.24)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed in 1988 jointly by two

United Nations bodies, the World Meteorological Organization and the UN Environment Pro-

gramme, to provide assessments of future climate change and its likely impacts.

In their subsequent reports they stated that the world is facing a global crisis across social, en-

vironmental, and economic divides.


It also prescribed methods for dealing with these concerns.
In response to these threats to climate change their methodologies are based on the practices of

mitigation and adaptation.


One of its by-products is Sustainability.
It has become the tenet of how we should now structure our world, as well as how we do our

business, to how we conduct our lives, how we create, and how we consume.
What is the case for Sustainability? And what is meant by Sustainable Development? Is it the
only solution to saving our planet from the prophesized ravages that lie ahead if we ignore it, or,

should it be considered as an idealistic approach to elevate and benefit society from the toxic age
we created over the last one hundred and fifty years, to one of a bright clean future that we can
leave to our progeny with pride and be remembered with gratitude by the generations to come.

This paper will examine the path that has lead us to the questions of how important the need
for a sustainable culture is; it will also address the implications of sustainable development and
what actions need to taken in order for us to be compliant.
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It will also focus on new holistic methodologies that are being adopted when it comes to how

we plan our cities and villages as well as how we design and build.

The case study will examine a working model of sustainable development here in Ireland; our

first Eco-village, “The Village” located in Cloughjordan Co. Tipperary, and how this commu-

nity has embraced the sustainable lifestyle, from how they build, to how their community is

structured, to how it fits into their lifestyles, and the influence of such a development has on the

greater local community, and will try to discover why they believe that this is a more beneficial

way to live their lives.

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1.THIS GREENHOUSE WE CALL HOME
1.THIS GREENHOUSE WE CALL HOME

Planet earth is aged at between three to four billion years old. The scientific explanation of how
it was created is thought to have been as a result of a supernova event, the explosion of a large

star. (Lovelock 2007)


At first the earth would probably have been barren and desolate for some time, similar to its
sister planets within this universe, until water vapour and gas eventually escaped from its crust

to create the atmosphere.

When most people hear the term “Green house gas-


es” they automatically think of climate change and
global warming, and that these gases are detrimental

to the planet.
They are in fact necessary to sustaining all life on
the planet. Fig 1.The Green House Gas Effect
(Thorpe (2007)
1.1 Green House Gases

The earth absorbs radiation from the sun, mainly at its surface. A balancing amount of energy
is then radiated back into space at longer, infrared, wavelengths. Some of the gases in the at-
mosphere, particularly water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, and the clouds, absorb some of

the radiation emitted by the surface, and themselves; emitting radiation from higher altitudes at
colder temperatures; the earth’s surface is thereby kept at about 30°C warmer than it would oth-
erwise be. This is known as the greenhouse effect because the glass in a greenhouse possesses

similar optical properties to the atmosphere.( Houghton 2001)


This mix makes earth unique from the other planets in our universe that don’t appear to have
any sign of life, and without an atmospheric composition similar to our own, would unlikely be

able to sustain any known form of life at all.


Over the course of millions of years the planet has experienced many different climate states;

there have been many climate changes swinging from Glacial periods (ice ages) to Interglacial

periods (warming states). At present we are believed to be in an interglacial period, although


there was a mini ice age recorded some 400 years ago.

1.2 Eco Systems

The earths biosphere is the thin layer on the surface of the planet where all life occurs and is a
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network of different communities of species, whether it be a micro organism, plant, or animal

interacting with their environment; a mosaic of ecosystems .

All these ecosystems are reliant on the other and disturbance of one could result in a chain reac-

tion to all others. (Newmann & Jennnings 2009)

Another similar view from renowned scientist James Lovelock, who is considered to be one of

the main ideological leaders for the campaign to raise environmental awareness; has termed this

inter-relationship as the ‘Gaia Theory’, the name Gaia taken from the Mythical Greek goddess

personifying the Earth.


Lovelock maintains that it is universally recognised that the earths biosphere, which he believes

is only a geographical area of the planet similar to the description of the atmosphere for the sky,

and the hydrosphere for the seas; the earth should be viewed as a self regulating system made up

of the totality of all organisms, the surface rocks, the ocean and the atmosphere tightly coupled

as an evolving system enabled by the sun. This self-regulation has kept the planet habitable over

the last three billion years. (Lovelock 2009).

1.3 Man

When examining this timeline over the billions of years, man has only been here a compara-

tively short length of time, a mere 70,000 years; thought to have evolved somewhere in Eastern

Africa and spreading throughout the world over the next 50,000 years.

It is believed that the population of the world has been growing continuously since the end

of the Black Death around the 1400s. The reasons for this could be attributed to Agrarianism,
which began around 10,000 years ago.

After the last glacial period, hunger was less common as food supplies became more secure.
As agriculture became more widespread, the increased productivity and security allowed com-
munities to expand and flourish, centring around life sustaining bodies of water which have

been charted as the some of the first examples of cities.


Over the centuries humanity has continued to prosper, attributed to new discoveries in science
and innovations in early technologies.

The 18th and 19th centuries saw the birth of the industrial revolution which could be attributed
to the major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and transport, having a profound ef-

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fect on socioeconomic conditions thus enabling man to further harness the power of nature

and reap the benefits, and this in turn sped up the mechanisation of producing goods, making it

easier for us to obtain for our consumption.

At the turn of the twentieth century, early automotive production exploded in the United States,

and began expanding to other nations during the 1920s. This and the increasing use of petroleum

oil derivatives to power factories and industrial equipment substantially increased worldwide;

this paved the way to faster transport systems, and, with an abundant supply and easy access to

the fuels available, the ability to produce electricity for the masses.

The United Nations and United States predict, that the world population will reach 7 billion in

July of 2012. Cities are expanding as more people head there with the hope of better employ-

ment and living conditions, with over 46% of the worlds population now living in urban areas,

and developing countries beginning to catch up on the rest of the world with nations such as

India and China currently being the fastest growing economies in the world.

They have seen what the modern world has to offer with electricity at the flick of a switch, fresh

water supplies on tap, and the comfort and prosperity that the first world has, and now they

believe it’s their turn.


Even at the time of writing, as the world economies are slowly beginning to emerge from the

worst financial crisis on record, to quote the former English Prime Minister Harold McMillan.

“We have never had it so good!”

This is where the argument begins!

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2. A BITTER PILL OR GREEN SNAKE OIL
2. A BITTER PILL OR GREEN SNAKE OIL

2.1 Anthropogenic Climate Change


There is little dispute that over the last 100 years the earth has seen a steady increase in tempera-
tures, rising by 0.74° C.

The argument dividing science is, whether it is being caused by man, (Anthropogenic climate
change), and, that we must bear the sole responsibility for this occurrence. Or, whether it is a
natural occurrence that has prevailed since the formation of the Earth.

Since the birth of the Industrial revolution in the latter half of the eighteenth century the levels of
carbon dioxide and other naturally occurring green house gases such as methane, and nitrogen

dioxide have been increasing, and have risen from steady levels of 278 ppm (parts per million)
in the 1900’s, to between 379 ppm - 400 ppm today. This has lead to temperatures increasing
and possibly reaching levels as high as 560 ppm, resulting in further temperature increase, to as

high as 4° C by 2100. (Houghton, 2001)


In 1989 the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment
Program (UNEP), gave its approval for the creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate

Change (IPCC); a panel of scientists to examine the causes and impacts of climate change.
They have released four reports over the last 22 years citing in each report the continuing chang-
es in the earths climate and pointing at the main causation for this being the use of fossil fuels

such as oil, the main source of fuel used to drive transport, and the production of electricity us-
ing coal and gas.
The theory is that since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the levels of green house gas

emissions have risen leading to a dramatic change in atmospheric conditions; this is causing the
earth to warm up, by heat that would normally be radiated back into space, but, is being blocked
by this thicker blanket of carbon dioxide that has further amassed since the 1970’s; with the last

fifteen years being the warmest on record.


Other factors are: deforestation for the supply of timber, and the clearing of areas to facilitate
grazing for animals in the production of food for the increasing world population, is depleting

our natural carbon sinks, used to draw down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Impacts of climate change

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cover and precipitation rates particularly over land, the melting of ice caps and glaciers with

reduced snow cover, and increases in ocean temperatures and ocean acidity due to seawater

absorbing heat and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The United Nations framework convention on climate Change (2007), in its report states; the

effects of these changes, even if the world was to instantly cease emitting greenhouse gases, are

now irreversible and we can expect unpredictable weather events for the next 15-20 years. If

no action is taken to reduce the level of green house gases, the level of CO2 could rise to above

560ppm further increasing the warming trend with predictions for beyond 2100 approaching as

high as 600ppm – 700ppm.

The extreme impacts of these temperature rises are believed to be: increasing ocean tempera-

tures causing thermal expansion of the oceans, and in combination with the melt water from

land based ice will cause sea levels to rise.

The rise of the sea level during the 20th century has increased by 0.17 metres; by 2100 this is

predicted to rise between 0.18 m and 0.59 metres with extremes of possibly 1 metre; the in-
creased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as tropical cyclones, including

hurricanes and typhoons, floods, and drought.

Human health could be affected with the increase of airborne diseases such as malaria; further
damage to terrestrial ecosystems, biodiversity, and coastal zones increasing soil erosion.

In July 2005, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown announced, that he had asked Sir
Nicholas Stern to lead a major review of the economics of climate change.
In the reviews executive summary its findings state that evidence shows that ignoring climate

change will eventually damage economic growth.


“Our actions over the coming few decades could create risks of major
disruption due to economic and social activity later in this century and in the next, on a scale

similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of
the 20th century”. (Stern 2006)

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2.2 Natural Climate change

The other side of this debate is lead by scientists at the complete opposite end of the poles, gen-

erally known as Climate ‘Sceptics’, ‘rationalists’, or, ‘realists’.

Their argument against anthropogenic climate change is based on independent scientific evi-

dence not conducted under any government funded studies, based solely on investigating climate

change, and present many points that they believe have been ignored by scientists and omitted

from reports by the IPCC, and must be factored in to have a true and balanced perspective before

being examined in order that one can make an informed decision on the debate.
In February 2008 a panel of independent scientists gathered in Vienna, gathered to conduct their

own independent report into the subject of anthropogenic climate change.

This came about as it had been suggested by Dr. Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic

in his speech on September 24, 2007 to the United Nations climate

Conference; that it would most help the debate on climate change if the current monopoly and

one-sidedness of the scientific debate over climate change by the Intergovernmental Panel on

Climate Change (IPCC) were eliminated.

(Singer, 2008, pg 3).

In their publication the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC 2007)
pointed to the fact that the IPCC are a panel of scientists that were appointed by and are subject

to approval by member governments of the UN.


The scientists involved with the IPCC are almost all supported by government contracts.
This has lead to disquiet with other members of the scientific community who question the way

the organisation functions.


It is made up of over 2000 scientists and reviewers, who evaluate publications on climate change
and, after several years work pass a lengthy report and summary to government representatives

from over a hundred countries, who edit the document before it’s final publication. The science
communities deem this method to be unscientific and politicized. (Cunningham, 2008)

The difference between the IPCC and the ‘realists’ theories are, that almost all independent stud-
ies that are conducted are not based on the need to prove that climate change exists. They insist

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that their studies are just studies in their respective fields whether it be climatologic, metrologi-

cal, hydrological in a quest for further knowledge into their subject, with no outside input or

influence, especially from government agencies.

The conclusions that the NPCC report draw are:

Evidence of warming is not evidence that the cause is anthropogenic.


The correlation between temperature and carbon dioxide levels is weak and inconclusive.
The world has seen many ice ages over its history and for thousands of years following the end

of a glacial period it takes a considerable amount of time for the melting of ice caps and glacial
regions of the planet to melt and that is what is happening now.
They point to particular points in history when the climate was accepted as being warmer in the

medieval period and then cooled down during ‘the little ice’ age of the 16th and 17th centuries,
yet the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were much higher.
It is also recognized that between 1940 and 1975 that there was a significant drop in temperature

worldwide while there was an intense period of industrial activity causing increases in carbon
dioxide emissions.

The two main basis of evidence used to support the proof of Anthropogenic climate change are
computer modeling and ice core sampling.
An ice core sample is a core sample from the accumulation of snow and ice over many years that

have re-crystallized and have trapped air bubbles from previous time periods. The composition
of these ice cores, especially the presence of hydrogen and oxygen isotopes, provides a snap
shot of the climate at the time.

Climate modeling is a computer program mostly made up of mathematical equations. These


equations quantitatively describe how atmospheric temperature, air pressure, winds, water va-
pour, clouds, and precipitation all respond to solar heating of the Earth’s surface and atmo-

sphere.
The argument against the results of these methods are: that as reproducible as ice core samples
may be, they only take a snap shot of local conditions, and cannot accurately state that the same

condition was present in another region. They also go on to say that climate models are not an

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exact science and data can be excluded and manipulated to prove singular theories, and, that

there is a tendency to draw a line under a particular result that cannot be the basis for a final

conclusion. (Feldman 2009)

Scientists also state that higher concentrations of CO2 are not responsible for weather extremes,

storms, or hurricanes; the fact that so many storms have been recorded over the last ten to fifteen

years is because the technology for measuring such occurrences has progressed thus improving

the ability to monitor such events.

They also believe the economic effects of modest warming are likely to be positive and that

higher concentrations of CO2 would actually be beneficial to plant and animal life as well as

humans, as an increase in temperature would lead to better yields from crops. And improved

quality of life, as humans respond favourably to warmer, rather than colder conditions.

They also believe that most of the money being spent on climate change mitigation and adapta-

tion could be better spent on less fortunate populations in the developing nations.

The Danish author, academic, and environmental writer Bjørn Lomborg has written many books

arguing against the supposed negative effects of climate change believes that, rather than start-

ing with the most radical procedures, we should first focus our resources on more immediate

concerns, such as fighting malaria and HIV/AIDS, and assuring and maintaining a safe, fresh

water supply-which can be addressed at a fraction of the cost and save millions of lives within
our lifetime.( Lomborg 2007)
3.3 A New Perspective

As has been demonstrated in this chapter so far; there rages a seemingly irresolvable argument.
For every graph and scientific report that is asserted as being unequivocal in its proof, there are
scores of scientists engaged in rubbishing its validity.

“Hypotheses that cannot ever be disproved are not real science”.(Smith 2005)
In recent years a new scientific idea has come to the fore, by employing the first and second
laws of Thermodynamics.

The First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics set limiting conditions for life on earth: The
First Law says that energy is conserved; nothing disappears, its form simply changes. Another
way of stating this is: “Energy cannot be created, or destroyed, only modified in form.” The

implications of the Second Law are that matter and energy tend to disperse over time. This is re-

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implications of the Second Law are that matter and energy tend to disperse over time. This is re-

ferred to as “entropy.” Putting the two laws together and applying them to our planetary system,

the following facts become apparent:

1. All the matter that will ever exist on earth is here now (First Law).

2. Disorder increases in all closed systems and the Earth is a closed system with respect

to matter (Second Law). However, it is an open system with respect to energy since it

receives energy from the sun.

3. Sunlight is responsible for almost all increases in net material quality on the planet

through photosynthesis and solar heating effects. Chloroplasts in plant cells take energy from

sunlight for plant growth. Plants, in turn, provide energy for other forms of life, such as animals.

Evaporation of water from the oceans by solar heating produces most of the earth’s fresh water.

This flow of energy from the sun creates structure and order from the disorder. (http://Wikipe-

dia_The Natural Step)

In 1989, scientist Karl-Henrik Robèrt. wrote a paper describing the system conditions for sus-

tainability, given the laws of thermodynamics. After many revisions and peer reviews he arrived

at, ‘The Natural Step’.

The Natural Step Framework’s definition of sustainability includes four system conditions (sci-

entific principles) that lead to a sustainable society. The conditions, that must be met in order to
have a sustainable society, are as follows:
In a sustainable society, nature is not subject to systematically increasing:

Concentrations of substances extracted from the Earth’s crust;


Concentrations of substances produced by society;
Degradation by physical means and, in that society,

People are not subject to conditions that systematically undermine their capacity to meet their
needs. (Robèrt 2009)
Some facts:

Water
Water is a finite resource; there are some 1 400 million cubic kilometres circulating through the
earth, and nearly all of this is salt water, and most of the rest is frozen or under ground. Only

one-hundredth of 1 percent of the world’s water is readily available for human use. A world

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shortage of water is also an unstable world. In many countries, the amount of water available to

each person is falling, as populations rise. (http://www.fao.org)

Oil

Oil is a finite source; Peak oil is upon us, and predictions of peak oil range from 2050 to as

close as 2013. As developing economies increase their rate of progress, so too will the insatiable

demand for oil increase and could soon reach a point were shortages will become an inevitabil-

ity. The cost to the consumer will skyrocket as the price of trying to recover depleting supplies
becomes more difficult, to a point where it will become uneconomical. These effects could be
devastating for human culture as well as technological advancement and importantly as well as

to world economies if alternatives are not discovered soon.

Popualtion:
The world population has increased from 3 billion in 1959 to 6 billion by 1999, a doubling that

occurred over 40 years. The US Census Bureau’s (2009) latest projections imply that popula-

tion growth will continue into the 21st century, although more slowly. The world population is
projected to grow from 6 billion in 1999 to 9 billion by 2045, an increase of 50 percent.

Our footprint:

The Living Planet Report shows that the total ecological footprint for high income countries

was 6.48 global hectares per person, compared with a figure of 0.83 for low-income countries.

This highlights the significant gap between the demand placed on nature by the first world com-
pared to the poorer nations.
Economically richer countries like the the United States, Australia, and European countries

have per capita eco footprints of double the global average, or greater. Countries such as Costa
Rica, and China had per capita footprints below the global average. (Loh 2002)
The Zoological Society of London (ZSL), and the Global Footprint Network, shows that the

global ecological footprint was 14.1 billion global hectares in 2003 or 2.2 global hectares per
capita. The bio-capacity was 11.2 billion global hectares or 1.8 global hectares per capita, thus
there is an overshoot of 2.9 billion hectares or 0.4 hectares per person. (Newmann & Jennings,

2008)
Biodiversity:
Biological diversity, or biodiversity, refers to the full range of plant, animal, and microbial life

and the ecosystems that house them. Studies of deforestation have supported the concerns about
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Biological diversity, or biodiversity, refers to the full range of plant, animal, and microbial life

and the ecosystems that house them. Studies of deforestation have supported the concerns about

declining biodiversity, showing that tropical rain forests have dwindled from 3.5 billion acres
before the industrial era to fewer than two billion acres. Deforestation has meant extinction for
hundreds of species of plants and animals each year. (http://www.greenfacts.org)

When one separates these facts from the arguments that have been outlined in this chapter,
one has to wonder, if? We are looking at this the wrong way. One has to question if we are not

too preoccupied with the what if rather than the obvious facts in the here and now and that we
will soon not have the resources we have so long taken for granted at our disposal. In order to
maintain the tentative balance that currently exists in the world. we have to find new ways to

consume and new methods for the creation. Robert has shown that there is only

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3. SUSTAINABILITY
3. SUSTAINABILITY

When a layman thinks of sustainability he could be forgiven for imagining a picture of dread-
locked individuals with dogs on strings living in the trees, being reported on the news as people

chained to mechanical diggers espousing the wrongness of whatever it is they are opposing at
the time.
But the idea of sustainability has transcended from people who seem to be adrift from modern

life into what the sustainable ideology has become over the last couple of decades. It is not about
people wanting to live in trees and shut out the modern world any longer.
Our governments are promoting it, big business appears to be flying the green flag, and it reach-

es as far as Hollywood and even the American army. (Parr 2009)


Sustainability has more far reaching implications than simply the three “R’s” of reduce, recycle
reuse. It is a methodology; that must cross different boundaries in order to be successful. Suc-

cessful sustainable practice is measured over three interdependent dimensions: Environmental,


Social, and Economic.
It is believed that in order for sustainability to be successful, corporate institutions must adopt it,

and local government must have the will for it to be applied in all of its practices.
The triple bottom line framework also known as the ‘three pillars’, or, people, planet, profit, is
an accepted approach as to how sustainability can be quantified.

3.1 Triple Bottom Line


In business,Triple Bottom Line (TBL) accounting means expanding the traditional reporting
framework to take into account ecological and social performance in addition to financial per-

formance.
(Triple bottom line – Wikipedia)
Interpreting this model as the people, planet, profit, notion, it should be viewed as follows:

People:
It must be applied as a fair practice in relation to how labour is utilised and should not be abused
or used in an exploitative manner such as child labour practices. It must also be aware of its

locality and the interests of that region in which it conducts its business; this should include
poverty alleviation through increased access to affordable food, clean potable water supplies,
and renewable energy, especially in developing countries. It should benefit local communities
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and renewable energy, especially in developing countries. It should benefit local communities

while encouraging them to foster a sense of local pride.

Planet:

The environmental impact of production and practices under a TBL framework need to be as

minimal as possible, as well as avoidance of endangering depletions of natural resources, in the

practices, such as, deforestation and over fishing.


Lifetime assessments must be taken as to how a particular product will perform, in order to

reduce its ecological footprint; by employing a cradle to grave strategy; Cradle-to-grave is the

full life cycle assessment, from manufacture ('cradle'), to use phase, and disposal phase ('grave').

The lifecycle of the product must factor all inputs and outputs such as the monitoring of energy

that is used during its production, the possibility of recycling components and minimising the

environmental impact of non-renewable parts.

Profit:

Is the economic value created by an organisation after deducting the cost of all inputs, includ-

ing the cost of the capital tied up. It therefore differs from traditional accounting definitions of
profit. Within a sustainability framework, the ‘profit’ aspect needs to be seen as the real eco-

nomic benefit enjoyed by the host society. This is recognised as being the real economic impact

the organization has on its environment.

3.2 Sustainability and Cities:


Construction and the by products of the built environment amount to a very unsustainable way
of producing a product, and, it’s performance as an end product doesn’t fair much better.

From the impact it has on land, causing soil erosion, to the pollution when lands are cleared
causing silt and soil to run into natural waterways turning them turbid, which restricts sunlight
filtration and destroys aquatic life.

The energy demands it creates in the manufacture of its raw materials i.e. cement, timber usage
and other materials used within; including the pollution involving diesel and oil, paint, solvents,
cleaners and other harmful chemicals; the operation of machinery, burning, and working with

toxic materials and the amount of waste generated.

The construction industry is one of the largest waste producers in Ireland. The EU Commission
19
estimates that some 500m tonnes of this waste is produced annually in the Union. The EPA’s

National Waste Report (2005) estimates that 15 million tonnes of waste was generated in 2005.

(http://www.epa.ie/)
Then there is the issue of how our urban areas have been planned in the past.

Neglecting pedestrian scale, the physical, and aesthetic qualities of our towns and poorly ser-
viced neighbourhoods, overburdened public transport systems, choked roads, pollution, noise
are making life increasingly unbearable for more and more people.

But in the last ten years a more holistic approach to how we plan and design our cities and towns
as well how we should build has been fostered.

3.3 Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems


Bioregions:
A bioregion is literally and etymologically a “life-place”—a unique region definable

by natural (rather than political) boundaries with a geographic, climatic,


Hydrological, and ecological character capable of supporting unique human and
Nonhuman living communities. Bioregions can be variously defined by the

geography of watersheds, similar plant and animal ecosystems, and related,


Identifiable landforms (e.g., particular mountain ranges, prairies, or coastal
Zones) and by the unique human cultures that grow from natural limits and

potentials of the region. Most importantly, the bioregion is emerging as the most
logical locus and scale for a sustainable, regenerative community to take root
and to take place. (Thayer 2003).

In April 2002, a Charrette was sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme
(UNEP) and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives involving planning

experts drawn from developing and developed countries.


During their time they conceived the idea of “Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems”(CASE), a con-
ceptual framework, for examining and understanding the interactions of urban activity and the

environment and how these can be transformed into a sustainable relationship.


CASE is the multidisciplinary study of urban and economic systems and their linkages with
natural systems.
20
This evolved because it was believed that there is a critical need to envision human settlements

in more positive ways and that it requires more close and often long-term interactions between

different biological species and the relationship between cities and their bioregions.

The result of the Charette was the drawing up of ten short statements on how cities can become

more sustainable known as the 10 Melbourne Principles for sustainable cities.

The 10 Melbourne Principles for Sustainable Cities:


1. Vision

2. Economy and Society


3. Biodiversity
4. Ecological Footprints

5. Model Cities on ecosystems


6. Sense of Place
7. Empowerment

8. Partnerships
9. Sustainable Productionand consumption
10.Governance and Hope

(http://www.dse.vic.gov.au)

The idea of the 10 principles has been adopted in similar forms such as the Earth Charter, for-

mulated endorsed by local governments at the Johannesburg Earth Summit in 2002.


The Earth Charter:

· Respect and Care for the Community of Life


· Ecological Integrity
· Social and Economic Justice
· Democracy, Non-violence, and Peace

Plans which are based on these principles are beginning to take root in cities in American cities
such as Ohio, and New York city as well as in Australia.

Although this framework is applicable to cities it also needs to be scaleable as there is no one
size fits all model for this approach; rather, each city must be remodeled taking into account its
21
own regional characteristics and must become its own unique bioregion which in turn can be

applied to smaller bioregions and can even be narrowed down as far a singular development as

it’s own singular bioregion.

n their book Cities as sustainable eco-systems Jennings and Newmann (2008),

Outline, that modeling a city as a bioregion similar to the structure of natural bio systems, cit-

ies can be transformed into a state that could reverse the situation of the impacts our cities and

towns are having on the environment. By seeing cities as networked eco-villages embedded in

their bioregions, we can develop strategies and initiatives to protect biodiversity in the city and

its bioregion, along with broad-scale landscape and bioregional processes.

The city and its bioregion need to be viewed as linked rather than as separate.

This model is also very closely related to ideology of perma-culture.

The ideas of perma-culture can best be described as an ethical design system applicable to food
production and land use, as well as community building. It seeks the creation of productive and
sustainable ways of living by integrating ecology, landscape, organic gardening, architecture

and agro forestry. The focus is not on these elements themselves, but rather on the relationships

created among them by the way they are placed together; the whole becoming greater than the

sum of its parts. Perma-culture is also about careful and contemplative observation of nature

and natural systems, and of recognizing universal patterns and principles, then applying these
‘ecological truisms’ to one’s own circumstances”.
Eco Villages:

Eco villages are intentional communities with the aim of becoming more socially, economically
and ecologically sustainable. Eco village members are united by shared ecological, social-eco-

nomic and cultural-spiritual values, they see small-scale communities with minimal ecological
impact as an alternative. However, such communities often co-operate with peer villages in
networks of their own.
In the following chapter a case study of Cloughjordan in County Tipperary will demonstrate

how Irelands first eco village and how closely it relates to the frameworks outlined above.

22
4. CASE STUDY:THE VILLAGE
4.THE VILLAGE

The Village is not a typical planned property devel-


opment, it is a housing and community project con-
ceived by a group of like-minded individuals who

came together because they believed that there had


to be a more environmentally friendly way to build
and live.

The project has been running over ten years and


was conceived as an alternative to what some of

its founders, Gavin Harte, Davie Phillips, and Greg


Allen, were witnessing in their own towns and cit-
ies, and viewed as an unacceptable way to develop

especially when one observes the sprawling mass


that Dublin has become, through what could be de-
Fig 2. The Village (The Village, 2008)
scribed as questionable planning decisions.
Through their tenacity and hard work, they acquired a near 70 acres site in Cloughjordan North
Tipperary.
Sponsored by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the United Nations Environment

Programme (UNEP), the Atlas initiative focuses on the impacts of climate change and responses
taken by ‘climate communities’ across Europe.
Under the banner of 'Building a Sustainable Community’, the village project is currently in

the process of creating a model development that will include 130 dwellings along with shops,
playgrounds, and communal facilities.

Instead of choosing to build on a separate site isolated from other communities, they elected
to build and become an annex to an existing village. The benefits of this were viewed as lead-
ing to the local regeneration of a rural community, which, like many rural communities in this

country, faces the prospect of falling into decay because of the younger population becoming
disillusioned with the land and leaving to go set up in a city or simply emigrating.

24
Their vision was that at the heart of what was happening in The Village, could spread out and

influence the wider community thus strengthening the area as a larger bioregion.

This has also recognised and been reflected in the North Tipperary Integrated Vision Plan (2006-

20011), which views The Village as an opportunity to revitalise Cloughjordan, by bringing in

tourism and the ability to promote it as an example of sustainable living not only in Ireland but

in the rest of Europe too.


The plan also stresses the need to address issues of sustain-

ability in the existing village to emulate the changes that are


taking place.
Measures proposed included exploration of retrofitting exist-

ing buildings to be more energy efficient and looking at new Fig.3. Local primary school with
photovolatic cells (by Author,
approaches in the practices of waste and water treatment, as 2010)
well as, the encouragement of less vehicular travel by making the area bicycle friendly and rec-

ognising that the public transport service would need to meet theses challenges too.
The long term vision for The Village, is one of environmental resilience, in the face of global
climate change. Through their resilience they can gain better autonomy, by becoming less de-

pendent on fossil fuels and outside sources for food supply, while not contributing to increas-
ing levels of carbon in the atmosphere. Their methodology for achieving these goals of being
a sustainable community and how they will function as a group are listed in their Ecological

charter.

4.1 General overview of the ecological charter:

Energy Efficiency: All buildings will follow the principle of low-impact and high performance
design, improving the efficiency of the whole building and minimising heat loss through high

levels of thermal insulation. The charter will explore Rational Use Energy (RUE) by establish-

ing the site as a single user. This will require individual metering of each house so allowing for

active load management. Efficient electrical appliances and maximising day lighting is also
promoted.

Renewable energy (RES): The environmental impact of the development can be greatly re-
duced by supplying the community needs of electrical power from renewable means. This can
25
be met by purchasing renewable energy from the national grid or from integrated local renew-

able power generation.

Space heating: Should be achieved firstly through passive means: following bio-climatic prin-

ciples of solar orientation and compactness in order to gain a useful percentage of passive solar

heating contribution. A wide range of different techniques, such as wood stoves, heat pumps,

CHP, and solar thermal will gain the remaining needs.

Cooking appliances: Non-electrical devices are preferred; if not, appliances of a high efficiency

rating must be used.

Domestic hot water: Hot water supply; will be met by active renewable techniques, such as
roof mounted solar thermal panels; all boilers and piping will be highly insulated.

Biodiversity: The estate will be equally divided into three land use zones comprising residential,

agricultural and natural/woodland zones. The growing of local food and energy crops will be

favoured.

Water management: Potable water consumption should be minimised to drinking and washing
purposes only. Harvested rainwater and grey water can be used for toilet flushing and irriga-
tion, etc. All wastewater will be separated close to source and treated onsite. Biological based

systems required for sewerage purification, such as reed beds, will also add to the biodiversity
of the scheme.

Waste management: Waste reduction, reuse, and recycling are core design principles of the
project; Waste separation systems will be facilitated by the management company. A construc-
tion waste management strategy is also planned; Farm, garden and organic domestic waste will

be collected and recycled where possible, through composting systems onsite as fertiliser for
gardens.

Materials: The embodied energy of materials will be taken into consideration. This includes
materials of a low-embodied energy, locally sourced labour skills and materials should be used
where possible, with minimum wastage. Construction waste will be minimised by dimensioning
26
materials to reduce on-site cutting and reusing off-cuts where appropriate.

Healthy indoor environment: All construction materials should be chosen that are non-toxic
in manufacture, use and decay. This means a reduction in the use of PVC, timber preservatives,

glues and other intrusive substances, while natural finishes will be preferred.

Daylight: Day lighting in buildings should be maximised.

Ventilation: Passive building ventilation will be maximised and accompanied by heat exchang-

ers for heat recovery.

Transport: The Village will encourage the use of public transport, car-pooling, community
transport schemes, cycling and walking as modes of transportation. Individual parking will be

limited to one space per household. Roads will be downsized in order to promote the concept

of home-zones.

Social & Community: Sharing of common facilities where possible, such as collective laundry
and transport will be favoured. Open and public access to all common amenities will be pro-

moted.

4.2 Edible Landscapes

The 67 acres is split up into three zones.

The first zone acts as a natural boundary to


the development and has allotments with
raised beds of: cabbage, beetroot, lettuce,

sprouts, beans, black currant, red currant,


rhubarb, and potatoes, and will also see
Fig. 4. The Vegetable Gardens (The Village, 2008)
the planting of native fruit trees with apple

and pear varieties in the Spring.

Extending north behind the housing zone leads to a native woodland, combining willow planta-
tion areas (for coppicing, nitrogen uptake etc) and oak holly. The plan for the woodlands is for
creation of a natural carbon sink as well as encouraging biodiversity to flourish in this area.

In partnership with the residents of Cloughjordan, the project has established Ireland's first com-
munity supported agriculture scheme.

27
It is hoped that food grown in the community

gardens, allotments and the farm will be offered

for sale or exchange in a farm shop or commu-

nity market in the project.

4.3 The Farm:

The farm is currently in the process of making

the transition to organic status while exploring

more innovative farming practices, such as per-

ma-culture or biodynamic farming. Biodynamic

agriculture is a method of organic farming with

homeopathic composts that treats farms as uni-

fied and individual organisms.

The farm will stretch across 15 acres of the sites


Fig. 5. Woodlands (The Village, 2008)
lands, as well as leasing a further 28 acres for grazing nearby; with yields from the crops of

wheat and yeast they are exploring the possibility of starting up a organic gourmet bakery using
supplies of the harvests, while being able to sustain up to sixty people.
Their livestock at present consists of a small herd of Shetland sheep, pigs, and two milking

cows, that are milked by hand.


An interesting development occurred recently within the community, and was to do with the
slaughter of some pigs and lambs within the herd.

When it was first proposed to keep livestock, there was some consternation among some of the
members viewing this as being against their beliefs; the rationalisation for doing so was the
need for fertiliser. When the animals were slaughtered, and the meat was made available to the

community, some people who had been vegetarian for a number of years actually took up the
offering. Some of the members admitted that although being non-meat eaters, it was more to do

with their distaste of the meat industry production methods rather than dislike of meat itself, and

felt good in the knowledge that these animals were ethically reared and humanely killed.

4.4 Housing Area

The third zone of the village is where the housing development is situated. The infrastructure for

the community was finished in 2007; The water supply is sourced from a spring fed from two

River Basin Districts, the Shannon RBD and the South East River Basin District, which covers
28
the Suir & Nore catchments with groundwater contributing to 35-40% of the total public water

supply.

Waste Water:

Water waste will be managed and will rely on source reduction, and primary to tertiary treat-

ment in a series of reed-beds, sand filters, and ponds.

The objectives of this being to be as natural and have as low an impact as possible in it's design,

construction use and maintenance and in avoiding any threat to local ecology, groundwater.

Surface water drainage:

The project employs a soft water drainage system


for surface ground water run off, using a (SuDS)
Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems; (SUDS) are

designed to reduce the potential impact of new and


existing developments with respect to surface water
and drainage discharges. The idea behind SUDS is to

try to replicate natural systems, that use cost effec-


Fig. 6. Lake running through center of
tive solutions with low environmental impact to the site for surface water drainage.
(by Author, 2010)
drain away dirty and surface water run-off through

collection, storage, and cleaning before allowing it to be released slowly back into the environ-
ment.

Circulation:
A network of greenways (pedestrian routes and bicycle path) completes the circulation network

connecting all: homes, community spaces, the play areas, community gardens, and allotments,
allowing for safe quiet access away from cars and close to nature and wildlife.
The porous paving is a permeable pavement surface with a stone reservoir underneath. The res-

ervoir temporarily stores surface runoff before infiltrating it into the subsoil. Porous pavements
often appear as traditional asphalt or concrete, but are manufactured without fine materials,
and instead incorporates void spaces that allow for infiltration. Access for vehicle travel will be

available but discouraged with the exception of emergency vehicles. Each plot will have one car

29
parking space close to their home.

Electricity:

The community will eventually create its own local energy grid and become a single provider
by connecting to the Electricity Supply Board (ESB).
It will then activate a contract with one of the renewable energy providers, sourcing electrical

power from onshore wind turbines. In the medium term this local grid may be upgraded to be
fed from on-site renewable energy systems such as combined heat and power, fuelled perhaps
by anaerobic digester, coppiced fuel wood, photo-voltaic or local wind.

Heating:

All buildings on site will be

heated centrally from one single

source being the district heating

centre which uses wood-chip


pellets sourced as waste from lo
cal sawmills. This will also be Fig. 7. District Heatng System (by Author, 2010)

supplemented by a large array of solar panels that will be mounted close to the centre. It will

work on a principle similar to closed heating loops found in geothermal heating systems and

with high density insulation will run through the entire site providing enough heat and hot water

supply.

Although some might deem it unusual to have a singular heating system for the whole estate,

it makes sense from the point of view of not having to install singular photovoltaic cells on

houses, the down side of such being that the more energy you need to produce the need for a

larger solar panels, and then this runs into having to apply for planning as well as the aesthetic

drawbacks of these units.

Waste:

The community will practice waste minimisation and waste management, using state of the art

composting facilities to biologically decompose paper, cardboard, yard waste, and food residue.

Each community quarter is equipped with a recycling base where households will gather segre-

gated solid waste. Organic (compost-able) waste will first be composted, within and around the

home where practical and safe. Recyclable or non-locally compost-able waste will be collected

30
from the bases and delivered to larger scale sorting and holding facilities at the farmyard. Here,

waste will be sorted, compacted or broken down and held for collection by municipal recycling

schemes or delivered to bring centres.

Another innovative use for excess compost-able waste, is the removal to Glenstal Abbey, a

Benedictine Monastery in County Limerick that has been engaged in environmental projects

since the early 1990’s and makes extensive use of vermiculture, (worm composting) producing

vermi-compost.

Vermi-compost is the product or process of composting, utilizing various species of worms,

creating the heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials,

and pure vermin-cast produced during the course of normal vermiculture operations and this

project will combine vermiculture and thermo-phillic (hot pile) composting to fulfil the objec-
tives for advanced and natural waste management.

They have also recently completed a Wetland System to treat domestic and agricultural waste

products, and are now developing ways of converting solid wastes into energy and other re-
sources.

Transport:
The Village is located approximately 1km from the local train station which serves Limerick
and Dublin with changes for Cork. In addition, they have a car sharing scheme similar to tradi-

tional car hire but at more modest rates and for shorter periods of time.
Construction:

Members of the Village do not actually buy homes. The company behind the venture, Sustain-
able Projects Ireland, sells members a freehold site with planning permission and services.
Members self-build with approved developers.

As this development is a mixed community project, so one can expect diversification when it
comes to building methods, and varying styles also affecting the type of materials used.
As the sites are private developments no one can dictate how to build and what materials are

used, but members are expected to adhere to the guidelines set in the ecological charter, as well
as local planning conditions.
31
The types of houses presently on the site vary from prefabricated kit structures to the traditional

post and beam with timber cladding, as well as Timber, Hemp, and lime combinations.

The majority of buildings in the new community are positioned to maximise solar access to
ensure houses receive the suns energy passively for space heating, and actively for water heat-
ing.
Prefabricated
The prefabricated structures are

built on passive foundations using


a system of structural polystyrene
on a hardcore bed. It provides ex-

cellent insulation properties and


avoids large amounts of heat loss

back to the ground. Under the


floor slabs, run heat pipes which
Fig. 8. Kit house by Swedish Homes Ltd.
will be connected to the district
(Swedish Homes 2009)
heating system, this will be ad-

equate to heat the house along


with the heat recovery ventila-

tion system that does not need


to provide any new heat because
of the highly insulated roof and

walls having 400mm non-toxic


and non-biodegradable mineral
wool insulation.
Fig. 9. Timber Clad (by Author, 2010)
Timber Frame
The building of timber houses is
a genuinely environmentally sound method of construction and has been used for thousands of

years. Coniferous wood is a sustainable natural resource and requires relatively small amounts
of energy to grow and process, opposed to the energy and water usage involved in process-

ing masonry products. This makes it economical to transport and to work with. It is generally

32
estimated that the cladding can last for up to 100 years in a maritime climate, with proper

maintenance. The Insulation for this house is Cellulose, made up of 80% post-consumer re-

cycled newsprint. The fibre is chemically treated with non-toxic borate compounds to resist fire,

insects, and mould. It is an ideal insulation method as it requires less energy than fibreglass to

manufacture; Using up to 200 times less petro-energy than fibreglass to produce.

Hemp:
Hemp is a very versatile fibre that can be
manufactured into a variety of products

that resemble wood including fibreboard,


roofing tiles, insulation, panelling and
bricks.

This house was constructed of a prefab-


ricated timber frame, sheeted internally
with 9mm internal lining board attached
Fig. 10. Temporary Shuttering while Hemp-Crete Cures
to the frame with Studwork, before a skim (IrishEcoHomes, 2009)

coat was applied. The Hemp-Crete is


made up of a mixture of hemp hurds and

lime, and is pumped in between the stan-


dard timber-frame and temporary shutters
on the outside to a width of approximately

300mm. After 48 hours the external shut-


ter is removed and the mass of hemp-lime
is plastered with lime. The end result is a

wall that is extremely vapour permeable as


Hemp-Crete doubles as a good insultor
Fig. 11. Lime Plaster (by Author, 2010)
and moisture regulator.
The environmental benefits of using lime mortar are: It has a lower embodied energy input than
Portland Cement Between 50% and 70% less energy than masonry mortar compared to a ce-

ment based one, and, one of its greatest advantages is its ability to act as a binder of low energy,
sustainable materials such as earth, wood-wool, from timber chippings and hemp.

33
Roof:

The roof tiles on the house were

made from 80 percent recycled

rubber and plastic. Recycled

tiles are made of recycled rubber

tires, plastic bags, pvc pipe and

polymers. Recycled roof tiles


can also frequently incorporate

recycled parts of other materials,

and often include saw dust from Fig. 12. Recycled roof tiles (IrishEcoHomes, 2009)
saw mills, slate-like tiles will include actual slate dust from recycled slate tiles. They are durable
enough to last up to 50 years.

Glazing:
Most of the window and door types use triple glazing in the unit. The third
layer is so designed to resist extreme weather conditions, which makes

this type of window excellent in regions where aspect and prevailing wind
can be an extreme disadvantage; as well as being effective in sealing the
envelope,they also act as great condensation protection, as high indoor

humidity can result in a build-up of toxic mould, both visible and indis-
cernible.
Paint Type:

The paints used in most of the houses were non-toxic with low (VOC)
Volatile Organic Compounds and made from natural raw ingredients such
as water, plant oils and resins, plant dyes and essential oils; natural
Fig 13. A rated Triple
Glaze windows minerals such as clay, chalk and talcum; milk casein, natural latex, bees'
(by Author, 2010)
wax, earth and mineral dyes. They give off almost no smell or in some types have a pleasant
fragrance of citrus or essential oils. Health benefits of these types of paints are that, allergies and
sensitivities to these are uncommon.

34
CONCLUSION
CONCLUSION:

On my journey down to the Village, I had preconceived visions of an idyllic housing develop-

ment with windmills, solar panels on green roofs with flowers every where. At a glance one

would not really be able to discern between this image of a sustainable development or any

other run of the mill building site.

Presently there is not a lot there to overwhelm you, with only a handful of houses built. When

you consider it has taken over ten years to get to this place it might seem like a massive let

down.

As the day progressed and I got to wander around the site and eventually could get a picture

in my mind of what is to come. The hard work of battling with councils and financiers who

did not understand, or could hardly share their vision of this model development is over. The

infrastructure for the site has all been laid other works around the site are progressing. When

a seed has been planted and the shoots are beginning show , you know before long the flower

will eventually blossom.

And, that is what is happening in Cloughjordan right now. The town is slowly but surely be-

ing regenerated by people who are moving down here, not all are moving to The Village but

are on its fringes. These are mostly people who are not quite committed, but like the idea of
having it on their doorstep. The locals are acceptant of it and even beginning to embrace the
whole idea. While I was there one of the first members to join The Village project was cel-

ebrating his 70th birthday. It was an occasion that had the whole town in preparation for the
event that was to take place. As I walked through Cloughjordan everybody that I encountered
was telling me what a great night it was going to be.

The project is made up of people with different ideas of how the community should form.
Similar, to the climate change debate, there are some who believe that world is now in deep
crisis, and nature is about to exact its revenge, some are more moderate in their views. But, the

common bond is that they believe they are doing something that is more beneficial than the
normal methods that have been employed up to now.
When it comes to sustainable design it appears that what seems new is actually quite old.

Rather than going backwards, as some believe we must do now, and return to an austere exis-
tence in order to save the planet. We need to look backwards to go forward.

36
By considering the hypotheses of scientists such as Lovelock and deDuve, that our world is a

Giant network of living cells, this including man, all intertwined and interdependent. Does it

not make sense to emulate this model in how we structure our world in the future.

In the Natural Step, Robèrt has given us the impetus for doing so, he has given us the scien-

tific proof that we still have a reliable natural resource to be harnessed for our greater good,

The Sun; that has been with us since the dawn of time, another secret that seemingly only the
plants and animals were aware of up until recently.
It has been shown that using natural products in our choice of materials, natural ventilation

systems and simply having a view of day light, all attribute to a healthy building. I firmly
believe that the concept of a region whether it be a city, town, or even a single household has

the opportunity to set up similar systems. This reaching out further in to our neighbourhoods

we can improve the quality of life for communities by simply softening up our streets so we

don’t have to contend with pollution from the air and noise, becoming less reliant on our mo-

tor vehicles that cage us in drudgery while we attempt to negotiate our way around.

When approaching this subject of Sustainability I felt it was necessary to start from the top

and drill down through the reasons why we have ended up in a place where sustainable devel-

opment has become a such a necessity.


I felt that in order to design in a such a way I had to know why I should be doing so. In tradi-
tional architecture certain rules are expected to be followed such as space, form and order. En-

gineers have to obey the laws of physics when it comes to their designs for obvious reasons.
How a building is constructed is an age old practice following the rules as mentioned above.
Traditional building methods have been based on techniques so as to minimize on waste to

the contractor and deliver a quality product at a reasonable expense to the end user in order
to return profit. But, now it seems that profit is measured not in monetary terms any longer
the overall benefits of successful sustainable development and how it benefits the end user but

also the visitor and the neighbour as well the environment as a whole.

Whether or not, one believes that there is a grave threat to the planet from the forces of nature

caused by our own hand.


There has been proven a case for sustainable development.
To finish, the mantra of stainability over the last twenty three years has been;
37
“Those paths of social, economic and political progress that meet the needs of the present with-

out compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Brundtland, 1987,

pg.24)
Among the teachings of the Iroquois Confederacy, a centuries-old confederation of six

Native American nations, is the idea of the Seventh Generation. “In our way of life, in our
Government, with every decision we make, we always keep in mind the Seventh Generation

to come,” says Chief Oren Lyons, member of the Onondaga Nation and spokesman for the

Confederacy. “It’s our job to see that the people coming ahead, the generations still

Unborn, have a world no worse than ours—and hopefully better.” (Newmann & Jennings,

2008).

38
References:

Books:

Brundtland, E (1987) .World Commission on Environment and Development. (1987). Our


common future. Oxford paperbacks. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cunningham, P. (2008). Ireland’s burning: How climate change will affect you. Dublin: Pool-
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de Duve, C. 1995. Vital Dust: Life as a Cosmic Imperative. New York: Basic Books.

Feldman, S., & Marks, V. (2009). Global warming and other bollocks. London: John Blake.

Institution of Structural Engineers (Great Britain). (1999). Building for a sustainable future:
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Jenks, M., & Dempsey, N. (2005). Future forms and design for sustainable cities. Amsterdam:
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Lomborg, B. (2007). Cool it: The skeptical environmentalist’s guide to global warming. New
York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Lovelock, J. (2006). The revenge of Gaia: Why the earth is fighting back - and how we can
still save humanity. London: Allen Lane.

Moskow, K. (2008). Sustainable facilities: Green design, construction, and operations. New
York: McGraw-Hill.

Nature, not human activity, rules the climate: Summary for policymakers of the Report of the
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