Greening The Heart of the Home

Prince Charles has put his designer hat on to promote affordable sustainability

The Daily Mail reported that Prince Charles toured a model home built by Plain English for The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community in 2011 and was so impressed with the craftsmanship that the company set about researching how to bring green designs to the mass market.

Plain English now have a more affordable range of cupboards that they are selling online, with customers having to collect and install the British Standard cabinets themselves.

Prince Charles is known for his passion for eco-friendly living and building, but he understands that it will never get taken up if most people can’t afford it. Hence, the idea for the affordable royal-inspired kitchen.

A whole kitchen of this type costs about £5,000 while an individual single floor cupboard costs £400, which is affordable when compared with the original kitchen that inspired the idea, which would have cost about £35,000 to have installed.

As well as having sustainable materials used in the design of the kitchen, other ways of greening a kitchen, particularly if it’s an existing kitchen, is by choosing appliances that save water and electricity.

Countertops also come in a variety of recycled stone and timber variations and, if designing from scratch, using less space to get more and positioning the kitchen to use as much natural light as possible are other ways to green up the space.

Having ready access from the kitchen space to an outdoor herb and vegetable garden also increases sustainability of the space.


Search for alternatives heats up

As the seasons change, so do our heating and cooling needs and the ways we do this in our homes could change dramatically in coming years.

Not only is geothermal energy a great investment in the environment- it is emission-free, but it could reduce the costs associated with heating and cooling by 75 per cent because it takes its energy from the earth’s naturally-stored heat.

It works by circulating fluid, water or refrigerant through pipes installed in building foundations or boreholes then back to the surface.

Therefore, it’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To warm buildings, heat in the fluid is extracted through a heat pump and in summer this is revered with heat removed from the building by the pump and deposited underground.

The Victorian Government has already invested $1.6 million for The University of Melbourne and its industrial partners, Geotechnical Engineering and Direct Energy to further investigate this form of heating and cooling.

As great as this system is, geothermal energy doesn’t generate or replace our need for electricity, but it does save energy and reduce our effects on the environment.

Building on this, Geoscience Australia estimated that by using only one per cent of the geothermal heat resource within the top five kilometres of the earth’s crust, we could provide 26,000 times our annual energy consumption.

Australia will continue to explore this alternative energy source and, with further development, the price of introducing it to our homes will come down.