There’s ever-growing evidence that wood-burning is a big contributor to air pollution, especially in cities.
On January 22nd London had a major air pollution incident, with Camden, Westminster and The City hitting 10 out of 10 (worst) on the Air Quality Index. “We think about half of the peak was from wood smoke” said Timothy Baker, air pollution expert at King’s College London. Wood smoke pollution is most on cold evenings and weekends – this was a cold, still Sunday. Small smoke particles have the worst health effects, especially PM2.5 (smaller than 2.5 micro-meter), which get deep into your lungs. During that incident Cambridge levels of PM2.5 were 9/10 on the index. Domestic wood smoke contributes about a third of all UK PM2.5, which is 2.4 times more than traffic
UK government’s best estimate is that 29,000 extra deaths a year are caused by PM2.5 Public Health England estimates that 5% of mortality of people aged 30+ in Cambridgeshire is due to PM2.5 pollution. So this really is a major health problem, with wood smoke a significant contributor. Continue reading
You can reveal where buildings are wasting heat with vivid thermal images… this guide shows how with lots of practical examples.
I’ve been testing the £200 Flir One smartphone add-on. It’s as good as CCF’s £1,800 thermal imaging cameras with smartphone advantages, although not so rugged. Many more community groups and individuals can now afford to use thermal imaging to show poor insulation, draughts and other ways our homes loose heat.
Drawing on CCF’s experience of thermal imaging since 2009, this guide aims to help many others get started and to supplement our training sessions.
DETRITUS TRANSFIGURED: The Cambridge CirculART Trail – essay by Philip Vann
Over three days in June 2016 I set out on quite an adventure – exploring on foot fifteen of the charity shops on the CirculART Trail in near-central Cambridge. Here, displayed in both shop windows and retail interiors for one month, was a dynamically diverse array of artworks made by over two dozen local artists. All had been sourced out of everyday scraps and bits of detritus; also from once perhaps individually treasured yet now abandoned oddments. Continue reading
Today’s blog is another cross post from the Open Eco Homes blog. If this post gets you enthused about hempcrete make sure you check out the hempcrete workshop being offered at Thoday Street. At the time of writing there are two half price tickets up for grabs!
This years Open Eco Homes features Thoday Street, a house where the emphasis is firmly on natural building materials. Alex Jelly (pictured here with her Cob pizza oven and installing wood fibre insulation) and partner Mike are determined to make their eco-renovation affordable and natural, and want to help others do the same. As Alex points out in her case study “indoor air pollution is generally far higher than outdoors (a fact that shocked me when I first found out)”.
Turning to natural materials reduces the potential for ‘off-gassing’ from more common synthetic insulation materials, and also allows for complete return to the natural environment once the material is no longer required. Affordability prevents many people taking on an eco-renovation but learning a DIY solution like Hempcrete can make a real difference to price, and bring it within the reach of more people. Continue reading
Today’s blog is a cross post from the Open Eco Homes blog. Written by Anne Miller, a former Eco Homes host this blog post is a great example of the sort of detailed advice you get on an Open Eco Homes tour. Bookings are now open for tours on September 18th and 24th.
About a month ago, after we’d had a few plumbing jobs done, we noticed that our Combie boiler was turning itself on every time we used a cold tap. Or more precisely, the boiler turned itself on briefly, a few seconds after we turned a cold tap off.
This seemed very odd! The whole point of a Combie is that it only heats up the hot water when you need it. It was also very annoying, because we try hard to keep our energy usage and carbon emissions to a minimum, and this was clearly wasting energy. We subsequently estimated that it had increased our summer gas usage by about 10%. Continue reading
Please ask your MP to support the Environment Pledge.
The Brexit negotiations pose many threats and opportunities for UK environmental protection and our urgent transition into a low-carbon nation.
If red-tape slashing vested interests get the upper hand, vital protections for our wild life, countryside and seas will be swept aside. Also support for changing our industries, energy supplies, homes and lifestyles into the low-carbon future we need to avoid dangerous climate change.
There are opportunities to improve on EU regulations with better ones appropriate to the UK. For example the Common Agricultural Policy could be replaced with support for landowners and farmers, especially smaller ones, with the right incentives to take good care of the wildlife and land they know so well, as well as growing the food we love. A majority of British public support environmental protection at least as strong as current EU rules. Continue reading
Open Eco Homes Project Worker?
Open Eco Homes (OEH) arranges for householders to show and explain to visitors on 2 weekends in September how they save home energy by their home’s design, retro-fitted improvements, smart behaviour, etc. Continue reading
We’d offered to run a CCF workshop about personal footprints: “How to stop feeling helpless” at Climat Forum at a fairly bleak school in the Paris suburb of Montreuil. We only had confirmation a week ago. Publicity was minimal. Would anyone come? Continue reading
Extra security in Paris is undersandable but there were 2 events we couldn’t get into.
On Friday night we went to the launch of Energy Unlocked, a new UK organisation supporting low-carbon energy innovation. It’s a small startup, which attracted low-carbon business organisations over a remarkable range of scale: Continue reading
Anne shows off her DIY demountable window awnings
(Home F, in Open Eco Homes 2015)
When Tom suggested last year that we should be an Open Eco Home, I was a little nervous: Did we have enough to show people? Would they criticise my standards of housework? Looking back, those fears seem rather irrational, but they were real at the time, and I suspect quite common amongst other Open Eco Home hosts.
We’ve steadily been improving our home (an Edwardian terrace) since 2001, and this has had a substantial impact on our energy use. Our gas consumption is a quarter of what it was Continue reading
Videos of householders in the Mill Road area and home energy improvements they have made:
Patricia’s Victorian “2-up, 2-down”
now with internal insulation, double-glazed sash windows, woodstove & solar PV:
Judith Green’s eco-renovation of her Victorian terraced house, with carefully chosen high-tech, re-used and sustainable materials:
For details of materials Judith used, see her “Ross Street” case Study at Open Eco Homes
by Keith Jordan
The schools are out for summer and the holidays are in full flow but, with some regret, every year there are some subtle changes in the natural world in early/mid August that signal the summer is on the wane! The start of the football season is another reminder! Campers also find that clear nights and heavy dews can be a feature of mid August. My garden thermometer dropped to 6 deg C the other night here and it went down to about 4 C in Thetford.
About one week after the Cambridge Folk Festival finishes the swifts that have been flying and screeching over our houses are noticeably absent. They are already on the move, following their epic twice-yearly journey to Africa along with some of the warblers and other migrant birds that have graced our neighbourhoods. Continue reading