sustainability initiatives for the big brother 2007 house

the following initiatives have been introduced to the 2007 big brother house in order to achieve a greater level of sustainability and an improved environment for the housemates. the initiatives fall into 3 broad categories: energy, water and materials.

energy

solar water heating
a new solar water heating service, with storage tank with gas boost has been installed, this reduces demand for electricity or gas to heat water. the gas boost system enures that all the water heated by the sun is used first before any boosting takes place, its panels are oriented towards the north and tilted towards the sun to ensure maximum performance.

photovoltaic panels for solar electricity
an array of 40sqm of photovoltaic panels have been installed to convert sunlight into electrical energy that is then used in the house, or returned to the grid via the electricity meter. this reduces the reliance on coal-fired electricity generation. the electricity can be used directly in the house, for instance when air-conditioning load is high, or it can be returned to the grid. the system has no moving parts and is easily installed into a new or existing house. the amorphous panels used are not affected by shading and can work in low levels of sunlight, these panels are slightly less efficient than traditional blue silicon panels but are far less expensive and thus more efficient overall.

low energy lighting
much of the conventional incandescent lights, that generate heat and use excessive amounts of electricity, have been replaced by various innovative forms of fluorescent lighting. fluorescent lights generate up to 4 times as much light for the same amount of electricity, thus cutting the electricity required to light the house by up to three quarters. these t5 and t8 tubes have a working life up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, so far less material is used in replacement globes. they are configured to fit traditional fittings, which allows almost all incandescent lights to be replaced with a far more energy efficient light bulb.

water

rainwater collection
rainwater collection tanks that collect up to 7,000l of rainwater have been installed on one of the walls of the external courtyard to collect rainwater from the house roof. the water is collected in gutters, stored in the tanks and then pumped into the house for use in the hot water service for the cold water supply and hot water for the showers and basins. the system is fittted with a clear tube with a floating ball which allows the occupants to see the level of water and adjust their usage accordingly.

grey water system
a grey water recycling system has been installed to ensure that the water can be used twice within the house, reducing water demand. the water from showers and basins is collected and is cleansed in a filtration system and stored in a tank for use in flushing toilets, on the internal house gardens, and on the external landscape. the grey water system cleanses the water to a class which is suitable for all uses except for drinking.

shower water saver
this item collects the cold water lying in the hot water line prior to turning the shower on and store it for reuse later in the shower. this saves the water that would otherwise go to waste by running down the drain prior to stepping into the shower.

low flow shower and taps
the house has been fitted with restricted flow to the basins and showers to reduce the water flow and thus reduce water use. this simple installation can be fitted to old houses as well as new houses and is a very cheap but very effective water saving device.

dual flush toilets
the house has been fitted with the new generation cisterns that use only 2.5 litres for a half flush and 5 litres for a full flush, an australian invention which is the most economical wc in the world. by reducing the amount of water used in flushing, we can reduce the amount of water that goes to sewer that has to be dealt with as black water.

atmospheric water
the house has been fitted with a water fountain that draws the water by condensation from the fresh air, thus providing a very clean source of water for drinking. this device enables water to be captured from humid air without the need for rain. the amount of energy required for producing the drinkable water is very low and obviates the need for water bottles and delivery which require considerable transport energy.

materials

marmoleum flooring
areas of the house have been fitted with marmoleum, a form of linoleum that provides a more environmental floor surface than traditional vinyl. linoleum is made from natural materials,and has far less out-gassing than other floor surfaces, giving a better indoor air quality.

stratica flooring
stratica is a new generation sheet flooring, similar in performance to linoleum, and also based on sustainable materials

goat hair carpet
the soft carpeted areas of the house have been fitted with a new carpet made from goat hair that provides great wear characteristics, whilst being manufactured from an environmentally safe material. goat hair is in many ways superior to the use of traditional wool fibres , in that the goats may do far less damage to their chosen environment.

low out gassing paints
the walls and ceilings of the house have been painted with a paint formulated to reduce the amount of vocs, which limits the amount of out gassing and hence improves the indoor air quality, both for the painters installing it, and for the occupants.

wood plastic composite timber
the external decking around the spa and pool areas is made from a wpc (wood plastic composite) a form of reconstituted timber made from a mix of wood flour and polyethylene plastic that is suitable for long lasting wear externally, and that has less environmental impact than freshly cut new timber. the wpc timber is essentially recycled, made from wood flour that would otherwise go to waste, and recycled pet, such as milk bottles. the timber is superior in its stability, not cracking or warping or subject to termite attack: it has a far superior life span and less maintenance.

articles

contemporary home design annual 2008