There are many definitions of what ecological building is or what it achieves. The definitions range from a building that is "less bad" than the average building in terms of environmental performance to a building that is "powerful". Gaines Group architect Charles Hendricks's definition of a house or building is one that meets the budget, is adaptable and durable, protects or restores living space, reduces energy and water consumption and ensures healthy indoor air quality (Personal Interview, 2017).
There is an infinite number of measures that can be taken to make a house or building more environmentally friendly.
Climate neutral means that there is no net release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere or that the net CO2 footprint is zero. In the field of construction, it is a matter of measuring, reducing and compensating the carbon energy used by buildings or structures. This can be calculated by performing a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the energy contained in the construction and use of the building.
Zero energy buildings can be defined as "an energy efficient building where the actual annual energy delivered based on primary energy is less than or equal to the locally exported renewable energy" (Peterson, 2015). This zero energy definition concept includes zero energy buildings, zero energy campuses, zero energy portfolios and zero energy communities. All the developments listed can reach net zero status if the total amount of energy generated is less than or equal to the energy consumed within their site boundary.
The passive building incorporates a set of design principles to achieve a quantifiable and stringent energy efficiency level within a certain quantifiable comfort level. "Maximize your profits, minimize your losses," summarizes the approach. To this end, a passive house is planned and built according to these five building biology principles (PHIUS, 2017):
1. continuous insulation over the entire shell without thermal degradation of the entire building.
2. the building envelope is extremely airtight and prevents the ingress of outside air and the loss of air conditioning.
3. the use of high-performance windows (typically triple-glazed) and doors.
4. uses a form of balanced ventilation with heat and moisture recovery and a minimal room conditioning system.
The solar gain is controlled so that the solar energy is used for heating purposes during the heating period and overheating during the cooling period is minimised.
Passive construction principles can be applied to all types of buildings - from detached houses to apartment buildings, offices and skyscrapers (PHIUS, 2017). A passive design strategy carefully simulates and balances a comprehensive set of factors, including heat emissions from appliances and occupants, to keep the building at a comfortable and constant indoor temperature during the heating and cooling season. Passive houses therefore offer enormous long-term benefits in addition to energy efficiency (PHIUS, 2017):
● High-quality insulation and airtight construction offer unsurpassed comfort even in extreme weather conditions.
● The continuous mechanical ventilation of the freshly filtered air ensures excellent indoor air quality.
● A comprehensive system approach to modelling, design and construction results in extremely resilient buildings.
● Passive construction principles offer the best route to Net Zero and Net Positive buildings by minimizing the impact of renewable energy.
Off-grid housing is an issue that often arises from conversations about small houses. As part of our proposal, we will recommend that individuals stay connected. The biggest hurdle is that living outside the grid is illegal in cities. In addition to legality, however, considerable technical knowledge, high upfront investment and a drastic change in lifestyle are also required. One of the biggest attractions are tiny houses that have the ability to exist self-sufficiently. The technologies for a successful life outside the power grid already exist (Off Grid World).