Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, February 24th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 21 Comments

Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of self-righteous douchebags:

Eco-campaigners who built a classroom powered by the sun believed they were paving the way for the future.

Instead they have been taught a valuable lesson – there is not enough sun in North London to sufficiently heat their building.

The much feted zero-carbon Living Ark classroom was opened three months ago to great fanfare.

It boasts laudable green credentials and is made from sustainable wood, sheep’s wool and soil. The roof is made of mud and grass and it has its own ‘rain pod’ and solar panels.

But there is snag – its solar panels only provide enough energy to power a few lightbulbs.

As a result the classroom is bitterly cold and uninhabitable for lessons.

Parents have branded it ‘useless’, an ‘expensive piece of wood’ and a ‘great idea for the Caribbean’.

21 Comments to SCHADENFREUDE

Smurf Breath
February 24, 2011

sustainable wood

As opposed to what? Plastic wood?

its solar panels only provide enough energy to power a few lightbulbs.

The eco-movement has been noted for its extreme fecundity in producing dim bulbs.

I guess now Richard Curtis will press the ‘no pressure’ button and blow them up. I’ll go get the popcorn.

February 24, 2011

Back in days not too long ago everybody in England was cold all winter; no central heat. Of course, that was before global warming made winters without snow, right?

Don Janousek
February 24, 2011

What bunch of complete loons! Have none of them ever seen a map? Do any of them know what a globe is? Do they not know the latitude of England? HaHaHaHaHa!

I understand the next project will be a sun-powered ice storage shed in Aruba. Sustainable wood and all.

February 24, 2011

None of this lunacy would be a problem if the eco-nuts didn’t insist on government paying for their follies. You want a freezing classroom illuminated by a ten watt bulb? Fine. Enjoy yourself.

February 24, 2011

There are ways to do this sort of thing even in really yucky weather, because I did see a thing about a school in Tibet that kept toasty in the winter. But you have to do that super-duper insulation thing, and that “use the ground to equalize heat” thing, and you definitely have to plan for cloudy days. (In Tibet, they always have wind coming off the mountain, so their problem with windmill power was building ’em strong and quiet enough.) I’m not sure what you’d use in London for light, per se, but warmth can be done.

So it’s not that it can’t be done (especially with a big fat budget), but rather that the architects didn’t do it.

February 25, 2011

Maureen is right. Things like this can be done.

Believe it or not, there’s actually a whole discipline, called “engineering”, where people learn to do things like make measurements and figure out whether things are going to work before they build them.

What’s even more intriguing is, it turns out the “engineering” approach actually works better than the “having good intentions and hoping for the best” approach.

More people should learn about this.

February 25, 2011

Force Algore to take up permanent residence there.

Marie Blocher
February 25, 2011

Sustainable wood refers to wood grown on managed tree farms, where
trees are harvested and replaced
so annual growth matches or exceeds
the amount harvested. Recycled and reclaimed wood are other “green”
sources for wood projects.

I have to agree with Mark and Maureen. The architect(s) did not
apparently engage an building engineer familiar with terms like degree-days and average annual days with sunshine. With enough solar panels and enough storage batteries the facility could be
well lit even on cloudy days.
Likewise solar heating and various heat storage methods could be used to heat the place. Ground loop heat exchangers work in some soils but not in all, to extract heat from the ground in winter and pump it back during the summer.
It sounds, to me, like the project was undertaken with more enthusiasm than intelligence.
The professionals involved should have their licenses reviewed.

Marie Blocher
February 25, 2011

The “Local councillors, at Labour run Haringey council, who were behind the initiative” should be required to hold their meetings there.

sybil marshall
February 25, 2011

They can always go outside every half hour and sit with the engines running/heat on in their Piouses, if a Pious even has a heater. (It may not be ugly enough yet for them to allow themselves that.) Wonder what the plural of *Pious* is BTW?

Dale Matson
February 25, 2011

I designed and built a passive solar home underground in Wisconsin in 1980. It was difficult to get financing even though the construction materials were conventional (concrete, wood, glass and steel). I discovered later that ground is a rather poor insulator and I would have had a better and cheaper result with more insulation and the roof above ground. The home was too tight and I had problems with mold in the back rooms. It was very damp in the winter even with burning wood for heat. We had condensation on the windows every morning even with less than 15% humidity in the house. Air changes are needed in all structures to avoid indoor air pollution which means the incoming air must be heated or cooled. I considered a wind powered generator but realized that I could buy electricity from Wisconsin Electric cheaper than I could produce it on site (imagine that! I guess they figured that out too). I would also have a more reliable source than a wind powered generators which frequently freeze up in winter or don’t have enough wind for the blades to turn. Eventually, the soil was removed from the concrete roof and a conventional wood roof was installed over it with insulation. A house needs to breathe. Drafty old farm houses had lots of air changes so indoor pollution was less of an issue.

The Bovina Bloviator
February 25, 2011

I like the comment beneath the story:

Back when I first visited CAT in the Dovey valley in the 80s it was run by engineers who could design, build and maintain their green devices and buildings. Green now seems to mean dippy, useless, leftie people who can’t fix a gutter, let alone design a building properly.

Well said.

February 25, 2011

Warmmongers destroying civilization, one “green” project at a time.

Allen Lewis
February 25, 2011

Bless you, Lord, for poetic justice! 😛

Like the guy from A-Team says, “I love it when a plan comes together!”

February 25, 2011

Math and history. Two concepts greenies need but don’t acknowledge.

February 25, 2011

Oh, sure. It can be done. But in the real world, it is beyone the means of any average person.

You just can’t afford those clean energy projects unless you can convince (coerce) someone else to pay for them.

Smurf Breath
February 25, 2011

Marie, Thanks for the clarification re: sustainable wood. I should have figured that out. I wish these people would stop inventing oblique jargon and come up with better terms.

February 26, 2011

Too cold? For what? Look at the stone buildings where the Book Of Kells was written down! I don’t imagine such a thing will be repeated in a Commonwealth that can put the words “Sir Elton John” together, but the modern students might find other ways of heating up the place. Sheer biomass: crowd the classroom, for one. Also there’s the good old peat to harvest (probably releases a lot of carbon), but other than that, a bad idea. Very attractive building, and a nice idea.

February 26, 2011

When we lived in Phoenix in the 80s, solar hot water heaters didn’t even work there between November and February, as we found out the hard way. Phoenix!

February 26, 2011

There was a lot of engineering behind medieval writing desk cubicles, and the proper arrangement thereof (for sunlight and heat). Similarly, you couldn’t just slap books on shelves in Ireland (damp), so you got all sorts of arrangements (putting them in anti-damp bookbags, mostly).

Allen Lewis
February 27, 2011

@Smurf Breath –
Since the use of obscure jargon is intended to confuse the issue so that the “common people”, i.e. taxpayers, don’t know what is going on. If they used clear language, it would be obvious that they are talking through their hats and their pet green projects would be voted down.

So do not look for clarity from these people. The Educators and the Social Engineers learned this trick long ago.

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