Ecological Construction in Moni Eco Village

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  • Author John Sebastian
  • Published October 20, 2012
  • Word count 1,576

The House

  1. The structural frame

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. This is an internationally accepted specification. Close attention to detail during the course of construction with proper damp proof courses, horizontal and vertical damp proof and breather 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 UK 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.

The frame is erected and securely fixed to a reinforced concrete raft foundation to the Structural Engineers design and specification in accordance with the Cyprus regulations and is inspected during the course of construction by the Structural Engineer. Proper cube tests are taken of all concrete used to ensure that it is in accordance with the Structural design.

  1. External walls.

The external walls of the frame are protected and highly thermally insulated with a combination of Yton insulating blocks, mineral wool and polystyrene providing a structural, highly insulated wall approximately 25 cm thick.

  1. Internal walls.

All internal walls are approximately147 mm thick constructed of timber studwork to the Structural Engineers details faced with 11mm OSB plywood and 12,5mm plasterboard skimmed and trimmed to provide a smooth and strong finish for painting.

All internal partition walls are packed with mineral wool for sound insulation.

  1. Internal floors.

The ground floor consists of a 10cm concrete screed on under floor heating pipes on 10cm polystyrene insulation on a steel reinforced and waterproofed concrete ground slab.

The first floor consists on a 7.5mm concrete screed on under floor heating pipes on 7.5mm polystyrene insulation on the structural timber floor to the structural engineer’s specifications.

The structural timber floor is packed with mineral wool to provide sound insulation.

  1. External finishes to the house

Roof. The roof is finished with Italian baked clay roof tiles.

Walls. The upper floors are finished with high grade waterproof resin based Grafiato which is long lasting weatherproof low maintenance finish. The ground floor walls are finished with a beautiful natural stone.

Window sills and door thresholds are in hardwearing granite.

External doors and windows are double glazed with ‘Low E’ special energy efficient glass filled with inert argon gas to provide high insulation values fixed in high quality aluminium frames.

All external exposed concrete is rendered smooth and painted with one coat primer sealer and two coats of good quality external grade paint.

Balconies are finished with high quality ceramic tiles.

Balcony balustrades are in wrought iron factory painted with an oven baked long lasting ceramic finish.

  1. Internal finishes.

All internal walls unless otherwise specified are painted with one coat of primer sealer and two coats high quality emulsion paint.

In living area, bedrooms and kitchens, our prices include high grade ceramic tiles and our clients can also have the option to choose granite or marble with an extra cost.

High grade ceramic tiles are used for the bathroom walls and flooring.

The staircase, the balustrades, and the hand rails are made of quality seasoned mature oak and are to our architect’s design.

  1. Wardrobes Doors And Kitchen Cabinets

Wardrobes doors and kitchen units are designed by our interior designers and are hand made by skilled workers using good quality timber and strong laminated film faced boards to our clients colour requirements. Alternatively Italian kitchens can be chosen from our Italian range.

The kitchen accessories and fittings which are used are of excellent quality and the worktops are of granite. For the splash backs good quality ceramic tiles are included in our price and the client has the option of using granite with a small extra cost. If required marble can be used instead of granite from our range of finishes.

  1. Plumbing And Sanitary Installations

The drainage and plumbing system is designed by our engineers in strict compliance with the latest code of practice and local authority rules and regulations.

The plumbing system is constructed with polypropylene or copper pipes using the latest code of practice.

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.

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

Fresh water comes direct from the water board and is supplied to the kitchen sink.

  1. Cooling And Heating

Fully operational under floor heating and air conditioning is provided in all houses. These will operate by use of our highly economical Geothermal System which will also heat the pool at a very low cost. Please see our ecological sheet for further information.

  1. Electrical Installation

The electric wiring system is designed by a specialist consultant in strict compliance with the latest code of practice and local authority’s rules and regulations.

TV and telephone sockets are amply provided in every room. Electrical installations are checked and approved for safety prior to final electricity connection and delivery to the owner, by the Electricity authority of Cyprus.

A burglar alarm and fire alarm are provided as standard.

Sophisticated controls are provided for the geothermal system, biological waste treatment plant and the artesian water well supply.

  1. Car Park

Each House has its own car park. Each detached house has at least two private car parking spaces, at least one of which is covered, and there is ample parking for visitors.

  1. Swimming pools

The swimming pools are to the sizes mentioned in the specifications. They pools are made of reinforced concrete and lined with 1.5mm thick heavy duty plastic liners. All equipment, pumps and filters are of robust long lasting construction. Swimming pools can be filled from the underground artesian well water supply which has been accessed from under the complex resulting in great savings in the cost of water usage and independence from the Local Authority water supply. Please see the geothermal page

  1. Gardens

The boundary walls are constructed of reinforced concrete painted with stabilizer and two coats of external grade plastic paint. Natural stone copings are provided to the top of the walls. Iron railings to the front walls are painted with heavy duty long lasting oven baked ceramic paint in the factory before erection.

Garden patios and garden paths are finished with hard wearing natural stone crazy paving.

A minimum of 15 cm top soil is provided to all the gardens.

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