Center for Alternative Technology

Machynlleth, United Kingdom

Center for Alternative Technology

Machynlleth, United Kingdom
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Essex J.,BioRegional | Whelan C.,BioRegional | Whelan C.,Center for Alternative Technology
Proceedings of Institution of Civil Engineers: Waste and Resource Management | Year: 2010

This paper sets out the opportunity to increase the sustainability of construction, through increasing local reuse of surplus construction products from construction sites. This is based on a review of the situation in the US where the construction sector is already supported by centres to reuse surpluses from building sites in most urban areas, supplying these surplus building products to the do-it-yourself market. This creates new employment and training in new skills needed to improve the energy efficiency of existing homes. Centres are typically run as not-for-profit (for community benefit) enterprises so successfully that just one store has built 15 houses for the homeless with its trade surplus over the past 5 years. This paper investigates the opportunity to establish a similar reuse culture and centres in the UK. The UK has rising landfill taxes (to L80/t by 2014), site waste management plans and an established network of architectural salvage businesses which focus on highvalue reclaimed items. There is an opportunity to kickstart a similar scale of reuse of surplus new construction products. However, the UK has not been moving in this direction. This paper sets out how a network of construction reuse centres could be established in the UK, some of the current barriers to this happening and how this could help support a shift to a resource-efficient and sustainable construction industry.

Corner A.,University of Cardiff | Randall A.,Center for Alternative Technology
Global Environmental Change | Year: 2011

Social marketing is the systematic application of marketing concepts and techniques to achieve specific behavioural goals relevant to the social good. Social marketing approaches are becoming increasingly popular among governmental and non-governmental actors seeking to engage the public on climate change. The effectiveness of social marketing in achieving specific behavioural goals is empirically well-supported. However, in the first systematic critique of social marketing as a strategy for engaging the public on climate change, we present evidence that social marketing alone is insufficient to build support for the more ambitious policy changes and interventions that constitute a proportional response to climate change. In some circumstances, social marketing approaches may even be counterproductive. We describe some alternative approaches for engaging the public, which may provide governmental and non-governmental actors with additional or preferable tools for promoting public engagement with climate change. Given the scale of the challenge, it seems critical that those seeking to engage the public are equipped with the most effective strategies available - a goal that this paper seeks to contribute to. We conclude that acknowledging the limitations of social marketing - and exploring alternative methods of engaging the public - is an urgent task for climate change communication researchers and practitioners. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Tucker S.,Center for Alternative Technology | Gamage A.,University of Moratuwa | Wijeyesekera C.,University of East London
International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment | Year: 2015

Purpose – The aim of this paper is to discuss selected aspects of the design of post-disaster housing building on current guidance in this area. The paper focuses on the use of appropriate materials and technology to suit the climate and site and draws lessons from traditional housing types and settlement patterns. Design/methodology/approach – A case study of a design project is used to illustrate an approach toward sustainable design. The approach is structured and could therefore fit into the wider structures and frameworks of providing such housing. Findings – A design was generated that meets many of the desired environmental criteria. It was also found that important design resources are required by the design team not mentioned in the existing guidelines. Research limitations/implications – A limitation of the paper is that the design is hypothetical and there has been no input from prospective inhabitants or other groups. Practical implications – The design approach illustrated here may be of use to relief organizations working in the field and also could be used to develop further awareness of sustainability. Organizations that provide for and coordinate post-disaster construction could consider making further design resources available as part of a project. Social implications – The study addresses the design of housing, which itself is an activity located in society. Originality/value – The paper adds to the discussion on the design of post-disaster housing and supports the argument that such housing can help to support wider and longer-term development. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Kastel P.,Invencardo Ltd. | Kastel P.,Center for Alternative Technology | Gilroy-Scott B.,Invencardo Ltd.
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews | Year: 2015

Abstract The arrival of small-scale decentralized energy installations coincides with the emergence of so-called "prosumers" - entities/households that are producer and consumer of energy in one. This research focuses on an electricity prosumer model in the context of the UK market. Levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for photovoltaic (PV) and wind energy will be modeled for six UK sites. Additionally, self-consumption levels for two different load profiles and technologies will be estimated per site. The simulations are modeled with HOMER software and multiple inputs will be varied including: natural resource, equipment cost, maintenance cost, equipment life expectancy, cost of capital, project life and load profiles. The modeled self-consumption levels show significant differences and varied between 31% and 72% depending on load profile itself and RE technologies mixes modeled. The pooling of prosumers implied by lower load profile volatility proved to be beneficial to self-consumption levels in the modeled scenarios, up to 17.6%. LCOE showed significant ranges depending on the input parameters and their combination, 10-55 p/kW h for PV and 2-19 p/kW h for wind. The combination of these factors is decisive for the final LCOE and the negative effects of less benign factors can be compensated by other parameters. When compared to current electricity retail prices of around 15 p/kW h around 97% of wind sites and around 4% of PV scenarios implied LCOE reached grid parity. The self-consumption levels and LCOE analysis indicate the viability of electricity prosumer models. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

Sobester A.,University of Southampton | Forrester A.I.J.,University of Southampton | Toal D.J.J.,University of Southampton | Tresidder E.,Center for Alternative Technology | Tucker S.,Center for Alternative Technology
Optimization and Engineering | Year: 2014

The construction of models aimed at learning the behaviour of a system whose responses to inputs are expensive to measure is a branch of statistical science that has been around for a very long time. Geostatistics has pioneered a drive over the last half century towards a better understanding of the accuracy of such 'surrogate' models of the expensive function. Of particular interest to us here are some of the even more recent advances related to exploiting such formulations in an optimization context. While the classic goal of the modelling process has been to achieve a uniform prediction accuracy across the domain, an economical optimization process may aim to bias the distribution of the learning budget towards promising basins of attraction. This can only happen, of course, at the expense of the global exploration of the space and thus finding the best balance may be viewed as an optimization problem in itself. We examine here a selection of the state-of-the-art solutions to this type of balancing exercise through the prism of several simple, illustrative problems, followed by two 'real world' applications: the design of a regional airliner wing and the multi-objective search for a low environmental impact house. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Latif E.,University of East London | Tucker S.,Center for Alternative Technology | Ciupala M.A.,University of East London | Wijeyesekera D.C.,University Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia | Newport D.,University of East London
Construction and Building Materials | Year: 2014

The paper presents the results of a laboratory investigation on the hygric properties of five hemp insulation materials commercially available in the UK. The hemp fibre content varies between 30% and 95% in the total fibre content of the insulation materials examined. The adsorption-desorption isotherm, moisture buffer value, vapour diffusion resistance factor and water absorption coefficient were determined for the insulation materials investigated. The results showed that the hygric properties of the hemp insulation materials could vary widely depending on the constituents and fibrous structure. The considerable differences noted in the hygric properties of the insulation materials examined could potentially influence their hygrothermal performance as part of a building thermal envelope. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Kuriakose J.,Center for Alternative Technology
IEEE PES Innovative Smart Grid Technologies Conference Europe | Year: 2011

The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) is a pioneering research and demonstration centre that inspires, informs and enables practical solutions for sustainable living. CAT has established a worldwide reputation as the leading organisation demonstrating environmental technologies. © 2011 IEEE.

Tucker S.,Center for Alternative Technology | Latif E.,University of East London | Wijeyesekera D.C.,University of East London
Structural Survey | Year: 2014

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to describe and discuss initial work to assess the moisture buffering performance of selected bio-insulations in lofts that suffer from excessive moisture following refurbishment.Design/methodology/approach: These conditions were then reproduced in a physical lab-based experiment such that the comparative performance of the bio-insulations and stone wool could be measured.Findings: It was found that the bio-insulations could remove over 60 per cent of the moisture in the loft air, and therefore reduce the risk of condensation and its severity.Research limitations/implications: The initial work reported here is indicative of the buffering potential of bio-insulations but further work is required to better quantify this performance. There is a need to further examine lofts with moisture problems and to produce reliable testing methods and protocols to be used when retrofitting loft insulation.Practical implications: Installers and specifiers of loft insulation should ensure that insulation is installed correctly, as with the drive to increase loft insulation levels the risks of damaging the building fabric through condensation are increasing.Social implications: Excessive moisture can damage the building fabric and create health problems. Using insulations that perform well across a range of performance criteria tend to favour bio-insulations, which have a far less harmful impact on the environment than do typical fossil-fuel based insulations.Originality/value: The paper presents preliminary findings that support arguments for specifying bio-insulations. © 2014 Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Latif E.,University of East London | Ciupala M.A.,University of East London | Tucker S.,Center for Alternative Technology | Wijeyesekera D.C.,University Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia | Newport D.J.,University of East London
Building and Environment | Year: 2015

An in situ experiment on a full-scale timber frame test building was carried out to study the hygrothermal performance of wood-hemp composite insulation in timber frame wall panels with and without a vapour barrier. The heat transfer properties and the likelihood of mould growth and condensation in the panels were compared. Step changes in the internal relative humidity were performed to explore the effects of high, normal and low internal moisture loads on the wall panels. No significant difference in the average equivalent thermal transmittance (U-values) between the panels with and without a vapour barrier was observed. The average equivalent U-values of the panels were close to the U-values calculated from the manufacturers' declared thermal conductivity values of the insulation. The likelihood of condensation was higher at the interface of the wood-hemp insulation and the oriented strand board (OSB) in the panel without a vapour barrier. In terms of the parametric assessment of the mould germination potential, the relative humidity, the temperature and the exposure conditions in the insulation-OSB interfaces of the panel without a vapour barrier were found to be more favourable to the germination of mould spores. Nonetheless, when the insulations were dismantled, no mould was visually detected. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

Hogain S.N.,Center for Alternative Technology | Taylor M.,Center for Alternative Technology
PLEA 2011 - Architecture and Sustainable Development, Conference Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Passive and Low Energy Architecture | Year: 2011

This paper examines the potential to reduce energy use and carbon emissions in Ireland through the refurbishment of existing housing stock. The study uses the Dwelling Energy Assessment Procedure (DEAP) to energy rate ten dwellings from the 1930s. It employs thermal imaging to evaluate the validity of the energy assessment. Using the energy rating of the dwellings, the study carries out virtual analysis to identify the best U values of doors, floors, external walls, attics and roofs, adding a draught lobby, installing low energy lighting, refurbishment options. These options include improving windows from double to triple glazing, improving the changing the boiler fuel and improving the boiler efficiency. The paper also indentifies and discusses the limitations of DEAP encountered during the study. These include methods of assessment, software limitations and occupancy factors. The main finding is that through applying a combination of refurbishment options a combination of improvements includes reducing the U value of external walls to 0.31W/m2K, improving boiler saving of approximately 50% is achievable in energy use and carbon emissions for 1930s housing stock. The combination of improvements includes reducing the U-value of external walls to 0.31W/m 2K, improving boiler efficiency, installing low energy lighting, reducing the U-value of the roof to 0.16W/m 2k and reducing the U value of the ground floors to 0.22W/m 2K.

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