Diary Of An Eco-Builder

Innovations in design and changes in our behaviour can work together to create new worlds

I am convinced of the potential of design to make a huge difference to our hidden ecological impacts, but I also recognise that sustainable design often complements changes in behaviour and lifestyle. This isn't an either/or but a subtle interplay in which design and behaviour work together to create new worlds.

I've been contemplating these new worlds at a humble level in the specification of the small laundry for Tree House, which will soon fill out from its newly laid screed floor.

Is it enough to buy the most efficient washing machine and tumble dryer and carry on as usual? Well, no. Thoroughgoing eco-design requires that we consider the whole process, rather than just tweaking the details.

Laundries have been banished from modern homes by the ascendancy of white goods, often turning washing into a mechanistic chore, rather than a task undertaken with thought and care. The design decision to include a dedicated laundry space in Tree House is therefore a deliberate attempt to improve both our technology and our actions.

On one side of the room will sit our washing machine; on the other, a large reclaimed butler sink. How many of the items in our laundry basket will really require a machine wash and how many will be happy with a quick cool stir? After all, we're a couple of urban professionals (albeit male ones), not coal miners.

Although we may not always choose to use it, our AEG-Electrolux washing machine is an eco-design success story (www.aeg-electrolux.co.uk). It requires only 39 litres of water per wash, a third of the consumption of a 10-year-old machine, and only one kilowatt-hour of electricity.

It is also designed to optimise our behaviour by incorporating a weight sensor which indicates when a full load is reached. This is important because most people consistently underload their washing machines and so end up using them more often than they need to.

Then we face the tricky issue of drying. Here there is no eco-design quick fix: even an A-rated tumble dryer will gobble lots of energy to perform a task that takes place naturally for free. Gas-fired dryers have much lower carbon emissions than the familiar electric models, but they still can't match the environmental credentials of the humble washing line.

Our small back garden will have a retractable washing line, but even this simple technology fails in the winter. So, above our washing machine we will be installing a brilliant piece of Victorian eco-design, the clothes-airer. This simple contraption is lowered to hang damp clothes then raised on pulleys to make the best use of the warm air collecting at ceiling height.

As few high street shops sell them, I purchased our Victorian original through eBay just before it got thrown into a skip. You can, however, buy a contemporary clothes airer and plenty of accompanying eco-friendly detergents from the Natural Collection (www.naturalcollection.com, 0870 331 33 33).

Hopefully, the laundry at Tree House will turn good design into good behaviour: within a few weeks, Ford and I expect to be the best-behaved laundry boys in south London.

Will Anderson's complete 'Diary Of An Eco-Builder' will be published by Green Books in spring 2006.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Property search
Property search
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Call Handler

£14500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a Sales Ca...

Recruitment Genius: Support Worker

£14560 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers unique pers...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor