Kevin McCloud on low-carbon builds and green home tech – Irish Examiner

They say charity starts at home — and in many ways, so too do our efforts to live more planet-friendly lifestyles.

This year’s Grand Designs Live, which returns to Excel London on April 30, will feature a new Green Living Live area, which will highlight latest innovations in insulation, sustainable materials and energy-saving technology.

They’ll also be showcasing a low-carbon home — created with energy-saving in mind — to inspire and inform consumers about the future of eco-friendly home design.

Grand Designs Live will showcase a low-carbon house designed to inspire and inform (Grand Designs Live/PA)

“It’s got good insulation in its bones,” says TV’s Kevin McCloud, who’ll again be hosting the event. “So it doesn’t leak heat and therefore it consumes less.

“I think that’s a really important first principle,” McCloud, 62, adds. “You can buy all the tech and gadgets, but you’ve got to start with the bones of what you have already.”

Insulate and ventilate

For McCloud — known for his passion for eco-builds — good insulation and ventilation are both important and ideally go hand-in-hand.

“This means double secondary glazing, extra insulation in the loft, more insulation in the walls, if you can get it,” he says. 

“Insulation under a suspended timber floor, over a cellar, draft proofing, and all the time making sure the air changes are good, the air quality isn’t being compromised, and you’re avoiding condensation.

“All of this is actually very easy to do in a new home, it’s slightly harder in an older home,” he adds.

Innovations set to feature at Grand Designs Live include Inno-THeRM, a low-carbon recycled acoustic and thermal natural fibre insulation, that’s easy to install and acts like a hydro regulator by absorbing and releasing water vapour. While CorkSol is an eco-friendly spray cork which can be used to coat surfaces, help solve problems of thermal insulation, and is great for treating timber, walls and cracks in old houses.

As well as showcasing solutions in new builds, McCloud says they’ll have lots of experts on hand to help people understand “how it’s possible to retrofit some of these into an existing home, to reduce your energy bills, dependency on fossil fuels and energy consumption”.

Recycling heat

Having a recycling bin in your kitchen, and looking at ways to reuse materials before chucking them out is one thing. But what about recycling and reusing heat? It’s something that’s increasingly being looked at — on a bigger scale, as well as via smaller home technologies, such as heat exchanger/recovery fans for kitchens and bathrooms.

“For example at the exhibition, we have a number of technologies designed to extract waste heat from the home, which is mechanical ventilation and a heat recovery system — a fairly common piece of tech now [which] simply reacts like a heat exchanger [essentially a device designed to efficiently transfer heat from one place to another],” says McCloud. “You’re saving energy, reducing dependency and reusing the heat in that air.

“This technology of mechanical ventilation and heat recovery is becoming smaller, it’s becoming cheaper, and it’s becoming more flexible,” he adds.

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