Eco House Book

Eco House Book
Author: Terence Conran
Pub: Octopus Books
Price: £35
The most striking thing about this book is its appearance. A big square tome of a thing, its cover is made from two sheets of thick, rigid card, and it weighs a lot. Crafted from mixed sources, how well this complements the book’s sustainability ethos, I’m not sure.
I delved in under the impression its outward appearance was merely an artful ploy to attract the environmental wannabes seeking something thought-provoking for their coffee tables. And essentially, it is a coffee table book, full of glossy pictures of beautiful houses in sun-dappled forests and ultra-contemporary penthouses. However, the phrase ‘Never judge a book by its cover’ rings true here, and loudly, for beneath the book’s polished appearance is a goldmine of carefully considered fact and strategy relating to the sustainability of global housing.
Laying the foundations for his argument, Conran gives a solid overview of issues surrounding carbon emissions and water footprints in relation to day-to-day activities, noting that domestic households in the UK are responsible for as much as a third of the country’s CO2 emissions, and lamenting the lack of ecological forethought in the country’s more recently built properties.
What follows is a thorough consideration of the factors to take into account when building an eco-home, or refitting an existing house. The ‘Servicing’ section provides hints and tips for saving electricity that go beyond the usual ‘turn off the lights’ spiel – placing a panel of foil behind radiators to increase heat, for example. The section ‘Basic Fabric’ discusses the pros and cons of using cement, plaster, bricks and wood for different elements of a house. And throughout Conran illustrates potential pitfalls and legislative issues, as well as how to overcome them.
Ending the book is a case studies section, which again, while exuding aesthetic appeal, pragmatically discusses how each was achieved, affirming Eco House Book as an informative read as well as a visual treat.
Rachel England