introduction

When the image above has appeared clearly, click in it and drag the mouse gently to look around.

Exhibition text, panoramic photography and web design by

Corvidae Limited

Exhibition designed and produced by
Jenny Searle Graphic Design Associates and 33Hz

green paints - in lots of colours

The paints and stains used throughout Ecopark are water-based and are 'green' - they have been developed to be low-odour and environmentally-friendly.

There are three parts to a paint - the colour itself, a glue or resin to stick it to the surface, and a solvent to keep it all liquid. When you brush the paint on to the surface, the solvent starts to evaporate, leaving the colour behind, firmly stuck to the surface by the resin.

Traditional gloss paints and varnishes use chemical solvents containing 'Volatile Organic Compounds' (VOCs). These chemicals give gloss paint its strong smell, and in summer they contribute to smog. Paints using these solvents are difficult to dispose of without causing damage to the environment. A labelling scheme helps you see what level of volatile organic compounds a paint contains before you buy it.

There are now increasing numbers of water-based alternatives to these traditional paints. They are faster-drying and have much less smell. While traditional gloss paint is in the 'High' category for VOC content, the gloss used here is in the 'Low' band.

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lath and plaster wall construction

Lath and plaster is the traditional way of cladding a timber-framed building. It's fairly sustainable, but making the lime plaster creates lots of carbon dioxide.

 

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Ecopark's wall construction

High-tech, high efficiency insulation uses energy to manufacture, but cuts down the energy needed to heat the house.

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cavity wall construction

The building materials for brick cavity walls are costly to make and transport, and without insulation they are nowhere near as energy efficient as Ecopark's design.

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construction

The skeleton of the Naked House is a timber frame. Building with timber is much more sustainable than using bricks or concrete. Wood is a renewable resource, uses very little energy to produce and is much lighter and easier to transport. While making bricks and blockwork creates large amounts of carbon dioxide, trees absorb this greenhouse gas as they grow. This means that planting trees to use for building isn't just less damaging to the environment - it's a positive benefit.

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what is timber framing?

Timber framing is an ancient, durable construction method which fits well with modern architectural styles.

A timber frame leaves more room for insulation within the walls. Wood itself is a natural insulator, so even the timber structure between the insulation helps to keep heat in.

The timber frames in Ecopark's homes are made from prefabricated panels. These are sections of wall made in a factory to the architect's designs, then transported here to be easily assembled.

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welcome to the naked house

Welcome to the naked house. It's called 'naked' because it's been left unfinished so you can experience for yourself many of the special eco features. It's these features that make this development a real step forward in sustainable housing and, just as importantly, a great place to live.

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partners

If you've seen the exhibition in the Visitors' Centre, you might know that the Ecopark has been built to a set of standards from a scheme called the Dutch Green Financing Model. To achieve those standards, Gallions Housing Association has called on a wealth of knowledge and experience available from its partners:

  • The Housing Corporation
  • London Borough of Greenwich
  • Willmott Dixon Housing Limited
  • Tilfen Land
  • DHV
  • PRP Project Services
  • PRP Architects
  • Adams Integra
  • Richard Jackson Partnership
  • Fulcrum Consulting

Together, we have committed to:

  • Work together as partners to deliver Ecopark.
  • Achieve hard evidence of sustainability using Dutch methods as a foundation.
  • Share the lessons learned from the project with residents, schools, housing providers and government.
  • Measure the success of Ecopark through the eyes of the residents.
  • Recognise that Ecopark is a model for future housing developments in Britain and abroad.

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the homes

Ecopark has:

  • 7 2-bedroom houses
  • 6 2-bedroom houses for people with limited mobility
  • 18 3-bedroom houses
  • 8 4-bedroom houses

There are also 8 flats for sale or rent on the general market.

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lighting

All Ecopark's houses have energy-efficient light bulbs which use only one-fifth of the electricity of traditional bulbs with the same light output. They also last about ten times as long.

Energy-efficient bulbs need special electrical circuitry to make them work. Most of the energy-efficient bulbs you see in the shops have this circuitry built in, so they can be used in traditional light fittings. This makes the bulbs bulky, and is wasteful as the circuitry is thrown away when the bulb runs out.

The lamps used here work differently. The circuitry is built into the light fitting, so the bulbs are smaller and cheaper. These are the first - and so far the only - lighting products accredited by the Energy Saving Trust's Energy Efficiency Recommended scheme.

These light fittings have several advantages:

  • Easy to install
  • Quick start (1 second) and flicker-free operation thanks to patented high-frequency electronic control gear.
  • Extra safety is provided by a 'deactivated lamp circuit': the light fitting is 'dead' when the bulb is removed, even if the switch is on.
  • The compact fluorescent light bulbs are easy to get hold of - for example, major DIY stores stock them.

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low-energy light bulbs

Compared to low-energy lighting, these conventional bulbs aren't such a bright idea! They last one-tenth as long, and use five times as much electricity.

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sustainable housing

The designers, architects and builders have worked with Gallions to develop housing which puts a real emphasis on sustainability and energy efficiency.

Many of the features in this house will become the standard for sustainable housing of the future.

Include plans and site map with a 'you are here' spot; also include profiles of each house type.

Ecopark has been built with the future in mind, and care has been taken to include only those features that can be seen to be cost effective and lifestyle enhancing.

The Ecopark team was careful to make sure that they focussed on the big picture, not individual features. There is no point in simply cramming in eco features if they don't work well together and add to the quality of life for the residents. The goal was to create a sustainable, replicable and peaceful living space. Many of the eco features are not 'new' or revolutionary, but offer sensible, simple, proven technologies to enhance the homes and offer energy efficiency to their tenants.

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underfloor heating

Some of Ecopark's houses have under-floor heating instead of radiators.

Hot water from the boiler runs through plastic pipes under the surface of the floor, heating the whole room evenly. Under-floor heating means there are no hot or cold spots, and can reduce heating bills by up to 20%.

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heating

This house uses standard radiators for heating, but they can be smaller than in most houses because of the extra insulation in Ecopark. These radiators also work at a lower temperature than in ordinary homes.

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the sun space - passive solar heating

The houses facing to the south have a sun room. This provides a bright, airy living space, similar to a conservatory, which also traps the sun's heat to warm the home. Not many homes have a room that runs the full height of the house. This unusual design gives a large area to catch the sun.

Some commercial buildings use rooms like this, together with mechanical pumps, to transfer heat to the cold side of a building, helping to reduce fuel bills. We do not need pumps here, as the 'passive solar' heating from this sunroom is enough to warm the whole house.

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condensing boiler

Modern boilers are much more efficient than older ones. But condensing boilers, which have been available for about 15 years, can save an extra 15% over even a brand new conventional boiler.

When gas burns, it produces carbon dioxide and water. Because it's hot, the water is produced as water vapour or steam. Condensing boilers turn this steam back into water, and transfer the extra heat to the water in the central heating or hot water system.

Boilers are given an energy efficiency rating, similar to the one used for fridges or washing machines that you might have seen in the shops. Ecopark's boilers have an energy efficiency rating of A, meaning they turn at least 90% of the energy from the gas into heat for the home. At their very best, condensing boilers can be up to 98% efficient.

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the visitors' centre

Ecopark is not just a concept or a series of show homes - these are real homes for real people, built and run in a way that can be copied by any social housing landlord or private developer.

The visitors' centre explains why we need housing like Ecopark, and what makes this a special place to live. It has been created to give you the inside story of Ecopark and answer some key questions:

  • What is sustainability?
  • Why do we need to conserve resources?
  • How does it work?
  • How did we decide what features to include?

 

Take a look round the visitor's centre

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