Image credit: SSE Zero Carbon Homes
Lloyd has railed against "eco-bling" in the past, also known as the practice of strapping on solar panels or other sexy clean tech onto fundamentally unsustainable homes or communities. But, when done right, solar panels can be a useful tool in a much broader, systemic approach to greener building.
Combining passive solar, biomass-powered district hearing, solar electric, graywater recycling, food growing and an electric car club, one experimental UK development is demonstrating what that looks like.
When we hosted a live chat with Solarcentury's Jeremy Leggett last week, he mentioned a housing development in England that was using his company's solar photovoltaic tiles to power a community electric car club. Encouraged by this combination of clean energy, electrified transportation and collaborative consumption, I did a little digging to find out more.
I was not disappointed.
As the CNN report above shows, Greenwatt Acres, built by energy company SSE is an ambitious experiment in joined-up thinking. From the raised-bed veggie gardens; through the smart card controlled central "switch off" when leaving your house; to graywater recycling and rainwater harvesting, it certainly seems to check most of the boxes of truly green development.
Perhaps most encouragingly, the experiment seems to be playing host to a diverse group of families and individuals, not just "eco-warriors", and should therefore provide some real, usable data on how these technologies and methodologies can work to cut real world carbon emissions for everyone—not just the really committed.
There's some fuzziness as to what Britain's one time commitment to zero carbon homes really means these days. But with volatile energy prices and limited availability of cheap fossil fuels placing real question marks over the viability of our resent economic model, this is one more sign that alternatives are not just possible, but practical.