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Posted on by Gareth Jefferies

16 Responses to Eco building in the Alps

  1. Jim Dunkley says:


    Our wooden chalet was delivered in ‘kit form’ from M. Dutruell. We have geothermal heating via two bore holes and a heat pump. Our electricity cost for our heating comes to roughly 300 euros per annum. We are on a south facing hill, so we get the sun all day which reduces heating bills.


  2. Graham says:


    Interesting thoughts Gareth. We’ve just finished re-insulating the roof of the older part of our house this year. Basically two attic rooms and a hall way. We tried to avoid using rigid PUR boards as much as possible though we couldn’t avoid it in the combed ceilings due to restricted space and needed the high thermal resistivity. Elsewhere we used sheepswool and wood fibre (homotherm) insulation. One factor that I don’t think is much considered is the environmental impact of the insulation itself. PUR (Kingspan / Celotex etc) is basically blown / foamed plastic. When cut, it generates a LOT of tiny bits of plastic dust – devastating for the environment, where much of it will eventually end up in the sea. If I ever build from scratch I’ll make a point of not using it. Awful stuff. We also used a little bit of aerogel (the stuff that’s in that insulating plaster) here and there where we needed to, but it must be something like 10x the price of PUR!


    • Gareth Jefferies says:


      It’s a shame the aerogel is so expensive. For renovating/insulating a solid walled house like mine I think it sounds ideal. As far as the impact of plastic dust goes, I take your point. Though I assume there is little cutting that needs to be done on site for a new build. I am going to visit a couple of SIP built houses next week and will raise the question with the architect. It just shows how complicated being truly green is!


      • Graham says:


        I wish that were the case i.e. little cutting. But even with a bog standard (UK) stud wall construction where the standard distance between stud centres is 600mm then you’re still going to make at least one cut per 1200mm wide sheet. And that generates a lot of waste. And then there are all the little intricate bits of framing to have to fill…

        For the UK market Ty Mawr are very helpful and have a decent range of eco insulations. Grab a cuppa…


  3. Eystein says:


    It’s really nice to see that there are someone that cares about eco friendly building in the alps. One wonderful day I’ll be able to do that to my own place.

    But for now I’m in a rental. And I swear half of our heating (electric) goes straight out the windows, literarily. We’re paying 2-300€/month to EDF in winter for a 60m2 groundfloor apartment, and it’s not even that warm inside 🙁

    So I’m curious about how you took the infrared pictures, I assume you need a special camera? Is that expensive, or something that I could assume to borrow from builders? (I know a lot of builders where I live in Chamonix)

    I’m not even sure what I’d do once I’ve got the pictures, but it would be interesting to see at least.


    • Gareth Jefferies says:


      That is a high EDF bill for an apartment. We pay 300€ a month (all year) for heating, hot water etc for a family of 5 in a 120m2 80’s renovated semi-detached building, the neighbours are never there either. The camera is special and was borrowed from a friend. An electrician might have one but it is quite rare. I think a new one costs between 2-3000€, in fact you can Google it, it’s like a Fluke FLK-Ti9. However I think your best option could be one of these. http://www.flir.com/flirone/ios-android/


  4. Runner says:


    Eco building in Houston Texas from what I have heard from some builders is a matter of cost effectiveness. Many people want it, like solar for example, but when it comes down to signing they almost always go for the more cost effective solution or where there is more value.


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