Oliver Heath is an architect and TV personality who believes in and practices smart eco design; he has a great record of working on key projects that encourage this. I had the chance to have a chat with Oliver and grab some insight into what he feels are the steps that we need to take to move towards sustainable living, here is what he had to say.
STEP ONE – EDUCATE
“Grand Designs are great – but the real problem is the 14million homes that need a refurb in the UK and getting people a greater understanding of using Eco Smart design to understand the physical and financial benefits”
The first step in the process is encouraging and educating people to understand the small changes everyone can make. Some people can afford grand eco designs, however for many the steps that needto be made are much simpler. Oliver encourages us to build a routine of energy consumption, consider how and when you use gas or electricity, write it down and monitor your use.
“Lack of creative thought from people who think that the only way to have an eco home has to build a hub …”
Understanding how much we use is fundamental to the changes that are needed, if you understand how much you use, you can then communicate this to other people who have similar homes and lifestyles. Doing this will allow you to share advice and tips on what methods are helping you lower your consumption and also learn from others how they can cut their consumption.This is obviously not a drastic step, however it is one that starts the conversation, it’s a step that get people consciously thinking about what they are using and how much they are spending.
STEP TWO – LOCALISE
Building a community network is another step that was encouraged by Oliver, this is a network of people who you can share with, as was mentioned above your experiences in energy saving. Moving on from this it was advised that members of the community should go further in assisting themselves with measures such as community sharing of tools and equipment, as well as thinking about bulk purchasing where possible. In order to do this people should consider creating a central network, this is something that Yoolocal do extremely well, but it is also something that the community members should take upon themselves to do. We live in a digital age, and we should harness that ability to connect with our community in an instant to create a better environment for us all to live in.
PART THREE – GET CREATIVE
“The aim is to create an environment where your home becomes the power station for more of your lifestyle needs”
Oliver is a big proponent of not just eco design, but also smart design, bringing them together to create the ultimate eco living environment, he differentiates them as so:
“Eco design is taking into consideration the cycle of the design and its impact. This is everything from the materials, to construction and how occupants live and work in this environment… Smart design is more about connecting the user to the products, giving them more information about the product they are using, or environment that they are in..”
In eco design the focus is on responsibility and proper planning, ensuring that waste is eliminated and that materials are sourced responsibly. In smart design the encouragement is to use technology that will feed you information, information that you can then use to make an informed decision about what changes you can make to you home to benefit you.
A good example of this is the Smart Meter from British Gas, allowing you to get a live understanding of what energy you are consuming and where, also giving you a breakdown of exactly how this energy consumption translates into what you are spending.
It is this type of innovative design that excites Oliver the most; ever keen to use the latest tech he powers his electric vehicle with his home fitted Solar PV panels. He is also keen to share his experiences, opening up his home to the public once a year, to give ideas and share energy and money saving advice. Seeing these measures in action he hopes will encourage people to start their own eco projects.
PART FOUR – WHAT NEXT
Spending time with a leading eco designer I couldn’t help but wonder what he thought homes in the near future would include, Oliver kindly obliged with four clear visions to work towards:
- Connected, using technology to feel connected to every aspectof your homes consumption all of the time, from multiple locations and with seamless reactive speeds.
- Smart materials, the movement to surfaces that capture energy, allow it to be circulated and properly distributed around the home.
- Connected communities, using our ability to connect with our neighbours in an integrated platform for everything from borrowing a ladder to community shopping.
- Better ventilation and clean air, this is a large design focus, allowing outdoor spaces and indoor spaces to blend with ease and comfort for a healthy living environment.
Guest article from Alex @ The Eco Experts.