Energy and the Built Environment

Back to uni!

Mostly excited, but there is always that sort of feeling behind eveything that I’d rather be sitting on a beach reading some nonsense fiction somewhere getting obscenely sunburnt by accident.

So, first class for the semester is a nice bit of an intro to the course (Energy and the Built Environment), and not too heavy ensuring that my brain’s not exploding with info after a weeks away. We were giving a nice little overview of the course content and assignments which I always enjoy becuase I feel like I have a bit of a destination, and with only 12/13 weeks to learn everything this is quite key.

As always, let’s get into the right headspace by remmebering how to define sustainability:

Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

– ‘Our Common Future’, 1987

However, remember that the concept of sustainability and sustainable development can have very different meanings to different people and that the definition should be fluid and open to interpretation. The one given above should also be critiqued, ad understaning this core concept, in our own ways, can be greatly helpful in driving us to achieve our sometimes impossible goals. We can also look at “why” we consider sustainability. What is our ultimate goal? This, of course, will also differ between people. (Please also keep asking yourself – how? for whom? where? when?)

It then becomes important to consider that generally, sustainability is (arguably) not and achieveable goal, and that it is necessary to discrimiate and look to “the greater good” and that perhaps “the ends justifies the means”. Even looking at the classic circular intersections of demographics, diversity and density where density, or economics, generally overpowers demographics (society) and diversity (environment). Increasing the size of the societal and environmental circul, while creating “equality”, will, by default, decrease the size of the economic bubble which will cause some level of detriment to some people (whether or not you consider this to be a good thing, I’ll leave up to you).

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 10.37.41 PM

The graph below shows how the burning on Carbon Dioxide affects various components of our life, showing that we need to consider sustainability for not just a range of people or places, but also for a range of species.


Here below we consider the cost of refurbishment to achieve sustainability, please note that the “negative” costs on the left of the graph sows the investment making money, rather than costing money and is therefore an example of “low hanging fruit”, many examples of which can be intriduced at a residential level.


The Nexus Between Energy and Water

Water usage at major stages of the coal life cycle:



Other concepts dicussed in the lecture that I’ve covered in previous posts:

  • Building envelope design
  • Biophillia
  • Ecological footprints
  • Urban heat island
  • Impact on biodiversity
  • The impact of food on the planet
  • Thermal components of households

Further Resources

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