Crete Island Estates and Construction have been responsible Developers for over 10 years, considering rather than ignoring the impact we could have on Crete’s ecosystems.
Environmentally friendly construction, both in design and choice of materials, is one of the most significant ways that we can affect the future.
Much of the concern boils down to the use of energy. Consumption of energy has a direct influence on environmental quality, because of the inherent pollution through greenhouse gasses and other emissions.
There are some very simple ways to design and maintain houses that require very little energy to keep them comfortable. The following list outlines 7 key points to consider:
·Build To Last
A prime ingredient of sustainable architecture is durability. If a building doesn't last for a long time, it would be a waste of a lot of embodied energy, from both a human and a resource perspective, not to mention the economic loss.
Building to last is partly a matter of consciousness; we need to value old architecture and their concepts. Too often builders will do shoddy work or make poor choices of construction material resulting in mistakes, disappointed customers and expensive remedial work, not only in terms of money but energy.
Architectural styles change, building materials change, family needs change but a well designed and constructed house should last for decades if not centuries.
·Use Local Materials
In almost all localities, nature has provided us with some wonderful materials to build with. Because these materials require little processing or transporting, the environmental and economic costs are low. Some are renewable resources like trees and straw and some may be so abundant that their supply seems almost inexhaustible such as rocks and sand. One of the beauties of building with local materials is that they seem to fit well with the feeling of the place, naturally.
Local wood has now become a rare commodity in Crete, but stone has been used by villagers for many years and is still very popular today.
Crete Island Construction considers the use of the correct insulation materials of supreme importance. Good quality well placed insulation that will keep the heat out at the height of the summer and retain it inside during the winter months.
All our conventional construction houses have been built using good quality column, cavity and roof insulation to retain heat and prevent water penetration. In addition we are now working with new advanced products to further improve the overall thermal efficiency of the house.
Our stone houses have the traditional 50cm thick walls which are a natural insulator. Together with roof insulation, this construction can comply or exceed the current legislation regarding insulation criteria.
Recent EU standards require all new buildings to conform to strict standards on energy conservation and use. The Articles contained in The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive 2002/91/EC (EPBD) are being implemented all European countries.
The objective of the EPBD is to promote the improvement of the energy performance of buildings within the European Community. Implementing the EPBD will encourage owners and tenants to choose energy efficient buildings when seeking new accommodation and to improve the performance of buildings they occupy. Implementation of the Directive is seen as an important contribution to reducing carbon dioxide emissions. As already is the case in the UK, owners of properties in Greece will in future be required to provide Energy Performance certificates for their house.
·Workwith the Sun& Nature for Heating and Cooling
Solar-heated water has been commonplace in Greece for many years, but the use of solar energy for heating and generating electricity remains relatively new in Crete. However technology is gradually emerging and, working with specialists in this field, we are able to offer solutions in this area. Photo-voltaic cells, air and geo-thermal heat exchangers and wind turbines are just a few examples where natural renewable energy can be used for both cooling and heating.
Installation of modern energy efficient wood burning stoves and fireplaces enables the use of local wood, often a bi-product of the olive industry. In some areas the pulp derived from pressing olives is available as a heating fuel.
In years gone by the villagers excluded the sun from their homes to remain cool in the summer and keep the heat in during the winter. Now windows can be reflective, double or triple glazed. Also available are the latest technological advances in glazing materials which involve the use of reflective material, inert gases and other techniques.
Sensible use of shutters can also be a passive solution. In a well insulated house, simply keeping the shutters partially or fully closed during the day, could reduce or eliminate the need for expensive and energy hungry air-conditioning units. Even opening and closing windows at different times of the day can improve cooling effects.
Other passive cooling strategies include wind towers that catch breezes and direct them through a house and simple evaporative cooling concepts. Another simple technique involves the size, shape and positioning of windows at the design stage which can significantly affect the cooling and heating of the house.
·Save our forests
While wood is ostensibly a renewable resource, in many countries we have gone way beyond sustainable harvesting and have ruined enormous ecosystems.
It is difficult to get away from timber in making certain styles of roof, but these can be constructed with certified sustainable harvested trees. This means that the forests where the trees are harvested are carefully monitored to make sure that the health and character of the forest is maintained. Only certain trees are culled periodically, leaving the remaining trees to grow and contribute to a better environment.
Crete Island Construction has a policy to retain and conserve the flora and trees on any new sites where possible. Often trees can be removed and re-planted either on site or at other locations.
The average person European uses in the region of 150 litres of water a day The use of low water capacity toilets, flow restrictors at shower heads and tap aerators are fairly common now and could contribute to a substantial reduction.
More sweeping conservation approaches include:
·Recycling and cleaning waste water for irrigation
·Diverting grey water from bathing, clothes washing and bathroom sinks to irrigate plants
·Catching rain water from roofs and paved areas for domestic use
·Landscaping with drought tolerant, indigenous plants.
·Use of drip irrigation systems rather than hose pipes for watering plants.
All are effective means of water conservation. It is important to remember that one of the best methods of conserving water is to respect the fact that it is a finite resource. Although water is relatively inexpensive in Crete it should not be wasted, report leaks, do not leave taps running, fitting filters and other common sense approaches can all help. Just being aware of the water you use can all help.
·USING AND CONSERVING RENEWABLE ENERGY
There are many ways to conserve the use of fossil fuel with the use of sun or wind to produce electricity is among them (solar water heating panels, photo-voltaic cells and wind turbines).
If you choose this option you will be forced to be careful in the way you use your electricity because it is limited. Whether you get your electricity from alternative sources or from the grid, it pays to choose energy efficient appliances for example:
·Always check and choose “A” rated or above energy efficient electrical appliances
·Front-loading clothes washers use much less electricity, water and soap than the top-loaders
·Many appliances use electricity by just being plugged in, known as phantom loads, so be sure to avoid them
·Remember appliances on standby use considerable amounts of energy
·Compact fluorescent lights use about a third of the electricity of standard bulbs and last much longer
·How Can We Help?
Our company policy is to constantly investigate, innovate and initiate change and improvement in our buildings and designs to provide the best quality homes with the least environmental impact on our beautiful island.
Crete Island Construction provides a way to communicate with, and learn from, a variety of experts in the many fields. More in-depth consulting is also available for specific energy saving products. So please contact us and we will be happy to assist.