Last weekend, I (April) attended Australian Earth Builders Conference.
There was some huffing and putting about the limitations of Passive House Building and data showing new developments in evidence-based research on Earth as a valuable Building Material.
For the Earth. From the Earth.
The greatest 'Sustainable' building practice is - to not built at all
If you want to double the efficiency of your home today, get house mate. But perhaps your home is full to the brim. Seeing as it takes 17.35 3kg cats to heat a 150sqm Passivhaus according to Tim Adams of F2 Design, more residents may not fit. So if you still want to build, here are the 2 most valuable steps: Good Design then get low-embodied, reusable, locally available materials: dirt!
1. Get The Design Right
R Values and U Values - these aspects impact our designs
Learn from the Ancient practices in Earth Building in Persia, Morroco, China, England and much more
Include Windtowers and Earth-cooled ducting systems
Earthships tie many ancient design features together
2. Appreciate Earthen Materials
For the Environment, From the Environment
For People, By people
Health belongs in the equation. Natural buildings mitigate the environment - temperature and humidity. This will make safer and more comfortable homes.
Keep it small
Just because the process is going to big, this does not mean each building needs to be big. The permaculture principle of starting small and being successful is priceless in the world of building design.
A retrofit is good for developing skills and good for the next occupant. Anyone can increase the thermal mass of a building with simple earth render or a mud-brick feature wall.
You can also use earthen materials to create insulation. Light-earth is a great material to put insulation into your walls.