Five Benefits of Ecological Homes Based on an Example of Moni Eco Village

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  • Author John Sebastian
  • Published October 30, 2012
  • Word count 1,301

There are five main reasons why the ecological village in Moni deserves the title ‘Ecological’.

• The use of ‘Geothermal Energy’

• Water conservation and biological waste treatment

• The artesian water well.

• High thermal insulation values

• Materials used in the construction.

  1. Geothermal Energy

With today’s increase in the cost of energy and the effect on the environment of pollution produced by power stations, it has now become economical and desirable to use the virtually unlimited energy contained in the ground under the earth. By use of geothermal wells drilled into the ground (in Moni these are from 50 to 100 meters deep) and pumping special liquids through them, the energy in the ground can be transferred with a heat pump into the house for heating in the winter and cooling in the summer.

The running cost of the geothermal system is the cost required to transfer this energy stored in the ground, from the ground to the house. This is a far lower cost than burning oil, gas or electricity to produce the energy directly as in conventional systems. In the summer the process is reversed and the excess heat from the house is transferred into the ground. Again the heat pump is used to transfer the heat from the house to the ground. The ground temperature is about 14° C and in the summer the air conditioners do not have to cool outside air which may be at 40° C down to 20° C for use in the house. Similarly in the winter the system starts heating with liquid which is already at 14° C up to the temperature required in the house, and does not have to heat outside air which may be at -1° C.

In Cyprus the swimming pool does not require to be heated in the summer months of June July and August. Sometimes this period may include parts of May and September. During this period the low cost geothermal energy is used for air conditioning when required. Central heating on the other hand is only required in the months of November, December and January, especially in the highly insulated houses in Moni Eco Village, where central heating may hardly be required at all. For the remaining periods the low cost energy can be used to heat the swimming pool thereby extending the period during which the pool may be used comfortably from three months to nine months at a very low cost for heating.

Unique advantages of the Geothermal System.

There is no need for fossil fuels and there is zero emission of CO2

Approximately 80% of the energy is provided for free by the environment.

The operation cost is reduced by approximately 80% compared to a conventional Cypriot house using a conventional method of heating and cooling.

No fuel tank is needed.

There is great economy of space because only a small heat pump is needed for the heating and cooling and which also has a longer life than conventional boilers.

There is no maintenance needed on the heat exchangers.

It works quietly and efficiently and it doesn’t require fire safety.

  1. Water conservation and biological waste treatment

  2. Instead of the conventional sewage waste disposal system used in Cyprus, each detached house or group of houses will have its own high technology biological waste treatment plant. The sewage is completely treated and the clean water produced at the end of the process is used to water the garden and is not discarded. This deduces the need for water consumption in this island which is badly affected by drought. Also, bacteria from partially treated waste are not buried in the ground thereby contaminating it, as is done by conventional systems used in Cyprus.

    1. The artesian water well.

In this island where water is in great shortage it is very pleasant to have discovered a large underground supply of natural water directly below the Moni Ecological Village. This water has been harnessed by a well 120 meters deep. The water is pumped to a deposit tank at high level on the site and distributed to each house thereby providing very cheap water for the swimming pools, gardens and for washing. This makes the Moni Ecological Village virtually independent of the Local Authority water supply which in times of drought may be suspended for periods of time. This reduces the demand for water from the Authorities which now have no alternative but to provide water from desalination plants in the future which require space and energy to produce water.

  1. High thermal insulation values

The roof is insulated with 20 cm fiberglass insulation.

The walls also have 20 cm insulation consisting of a combination of Yton insulating blocks, mineral wool and polystyrene.

The building is insulated from the ground with 10cm polystyrene.

All windows are double glazed with ‘Low E’ special energy efficient glass filled with inert argon gas to provide high insulation values.

These exceptionally high levels of insulation reduce the requirement for energy for heating and cooling and provide a house which is naturally cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

To give you an example of how highly insulated these buildings are, the latest building regulations in Cyprus introduced this year require 5 cm polystyrene insulation in the walls. Compare this to the 20 cm provided in the walls of the houses in the Moni Ecological Village.

Saving energy helps your pocket and reduces carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

  1. Materials used in the construction.

In the course of construction of the houses we try to use materials which make the least negative impact on the environment. The main area where environmental savings are made is in the use of a structural timber frame instead of concrete and steel. Timber frame houses have been constructed for hundreds of years and in the last fifty years have been perfected in the USA and Canada. Properly constructed timber frame houses last for hundreds of years. The timber frames are designed to be anti seismic and approved by the Cyprus Building Control departments which rigorously examine all elements of the design of the houses.

The frames are constructed using CLS (Canadian Lumber Stock) timber which is properly selected and graded for its proposed use and is pressure impregnated in the factory with preservative to protect it against pest and rot infestation. Close attention to detail in the course of construction with proper damp proof courses and vertical membranes ensures a lifespan which is longer than the useful life of reinforced concrete. The timber frames are self insulating since timber is an insulating material and the avoidance of using steel structural members improves the thermal insulation and avoids problems of noise and cracking associated with the expansion and contraction of steel. The system is used extensively for constructing buildings up to five floors high in the UK and mainland Europe.

The Director, Vasos Savvides Dip. Arch. (Southbank) ARB RIBA, is a specialist in timber frame construction. In 1994 his company Creighton Homes erected a show house for the Daily Telegraph Individual Homes Show at the National Exhibition Centre of the UK in Birmingham. 40,000 people viewed this house in one weekend in Birmingham. His current project in Wales, UK, has received an award ‘Highly Commended’ for its construction from the Local Authority of Carmarthenshire against strong competition from other developers in South Wales, UK.

The timber used in the construction of the frame is Douglas Fir, Pine, Spruce and other related species which are culled (cut in a managed way so that the forest is constantly regenerated) from forests mainly in Canada, Sweden and mainland Europe. The timber is regenerated in about thirty years. The main ingredient used in the construction of timber is sunshine. This is a direct way of harnessing the energy from the sun and not spoiling our planet with quarries and other scars left by the search for construction materials.

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