New Tricks With Old Bricks

This report from the Empty Homes agency makes a convincing case that knocking down old homes and building new well-insulated homes is not as green as previously claimed. There is hope for my 1900 house yet!

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4 Responses to New Tricks With Old Bricks

  1. matt says:

    Like those (albeit, temporary) murals. 🙂

  2. earthpal says:

    That place would make a superb conversion!

    Strangely, I was looking at a row of old terraced houses recently that are due for demolition. The glass was all gone from the windows, the doorways were boarded up and there were timber slats sticking out of every top window waiting, I presumed, to be taken away to re-use or recycle.

    But I was looking at the walls of bricks and the roof tiles and wondering if they were all just going to be reduced to rubble. I mean would it be feasible to demolish the houses in a way so that they can keep the bricks and the roof slates in one piece to reuse or recycle? I know nothing about the construction/destruction industry but it would be such a waste to just turn them all into rubble. Or does the rubble itself get used for other things?

  3. keithsc says:

    I believe they do reuse the bricks sometimes now and I presume they could reuse the slates or tiles if in good condition. It seems like your terrace was a bit far gone to refurbish. I live in an Edwardian terrace house – the kind of place previous reports have suggested should be knocked down to replace with more energy saving houses so I was very interested in this study.

  4. matt says:

    Interesting report Keith. I take the following from their summary;

    Previous studies and much of the accepted thinking on domestic CO2 emissions have suggested that demolishing existing homes and building new homes to replace them will contribute to an overall reduction in CO2 emissions. This study suggests that this is not so, and that refurbishing existing homes and converting empty property into new homes can yield CO2 reductions by preventing emissions from embodied energy that would arise from new build.

    The cumulative CO2 emissions in this study show that it is not simply the total CO2 from housing that is significant; emissions from new homes create what we have called a “development peak”, meaning that CO2 emissions are concentrated in the development or building stage. This effect is especially pronounced with new homes.

    This all makes perfect sense. I believe that Victorian and Edwardian homes are better built but not necessarily better designed but this depends on what modern design we compare. Well designed modern homes that have had the input of an architect will make better use of light. Older homes don’t particularly but a way around this is to incorporate modern light design into an extension. We all know old sash windows are useless for keeping in the heat and it is expensive to replace them with double glazed units made from wood, but this keeps the character of the home whereas pvc windows most certainly don’t.

    Refurbishing old homes on the whole does make sense.

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