Opting for a modular construction process provides many environmental benefits; obsolete waste normally found on a building site, which often ends up in landfill is kept to a minimum in a highly controlled environment. The minimal, but inevitable waste that is created is often reused elsewhere on the build.
The energy poured into the assembly process is only a fraction of a traditional building site when everything is done under factory conditions within an assembly line. Everything from bathroom wall tiles and drainage systems are integrated from the start, minimising waste and providing a consistent level of quality.
With no need for heavy machinery and or lots of site personnel, the modular construction process also enables a reduction in noise pollution that is ordinarily associated with a busy building site.
Prefabricated buildings can also easily be dismantled, and parts reused and recycled at end of life, presenting a more sustainable solution than the high energy consumption and waste associated with traditional demolition projects.
When paired with a local choice of suppliers the modular construction process substantially reduces the carbon footprint from transport of materials.
Comparable insulation properties to traditional plastic based insulates can be achieved by using biodegradable, natural fibres such as sheep wool, cotton/denim, hemp, therma-cork or aerogel, known as bio-composite insulation materials.
Locally Sourced Materials
Wherever possible float8’s specialist manufacturers use a local supply chain for all construction materials minimising the transportation distance and associated fuel consumption between place of origin and the factory.
By working with only certified suppliers float8 has considered the ‘cradle to grave’ profile of all building materials, products and systems, accounting for the environmental impact of each aspect both during the manufacturing process and the typical building lifetime.
Hardwearing Concrete Pontoons
A number of the float8 models are built on floating concrete or composite concrete pontoons. Whilst concrete isn’t widely associated as an environmentally friendly building material due the embodied energy required to make it, the impact is offset by its hardwearing nature and limited ongoing maintenance requirements when compared to less durable materials.
In traditional construction where impermeable hard roofs are constructed using slate, tiles or thatch, high levels of storm water flow straight into the sewage system, which at peak times can cause sewer systems to overflow resulting in flash flooding and discharging pollutants into our rivers and streams.
Many of float8’s more permanent products can accommodate living green roofs which offer a natural layer of sound and thermal insulation whilst also acting as a stormwater management system that on average is 50% more efficient than traditional materials.
Most HVAC systems mechanically cool the outside air before circulating it around the internal space, green roofs provide a naturally cooler roof space which in turn reduces the energy required to adjust the HVAC system to the required internal temperature.
Green roofs also extend the roofs lifespan by offering a natural layer of protection from ultraviolet light damage and extreme temperatures whilst offering new habitats for wildlife, of particular importance in more urban settings where a high proportion of surfaces the manmade hard surfaces.
Many of float8’s products can be fitted with rainwater harvesting systems, one of the simplest but most effective water management processes. Collecting rainwater reduces the risk of localised flooding and erosion and instead uses rainwater to for non-drinking purposes such as flushing toilets, watering plants and doing the washing, in turn can reducing a household’s water bill and the demand on ground water.
Water Efficient Showers
A short shower is still far more efficient than a long soak in the bath. All float8 products can be fitted with water efficient showers. Water efficient showerheads manage the flow and spray pattern dependent on the user’s preference whilst mixing water with air reducing the amount of water that is needed. Given as much as 70% of the water that is used when showering is hot water, water efficient showers also reduce the energy consumption used to heat the water.
Water Efficient Vacuum Toilets
Water efficient vacuum toilets, like those associated with the toilets on aeroplanes or trains can be installed in all float8 products. Vacuum toilets use a combination of suction and water to flush the system, using 0.5 – 1.5 litres of water per flush compared to 6 litres in even the most efficient modern water saving toilets.
Grey Water Recycling Systems
Wastewater from baths, showers, washing machines, dishwashers and sinks is known as ‘grey water’, which typically accounts for 50-80% of a household’s wastewater. All float8 products can be fitted with a greywater recycling systems that clean greywater to a level that it can be used for watering plants, flushing toilets and cleaning clothes, in turn saving up to 70 litres of potable (drinking) water in an average household.
Blackwater Recycling Systems
Blackwater recycling systems start like any other household septic system where blackwater (wastewater from the toilet) is sent to a tank where anaerobic organisms and bacteria been the process of breaking down the sludge. Thereafter the blackwater recycling system undergoes three further processes:
- Aeration – water and air are sent into an aeration chamber allowing the presence of aerobic bacteria and microorganisms to feed on the nutrients in the blackwater, getting rid of any potential pathogens.
- Sludge Chamber – Any left over sludge that remains following the aeration process is sent to settle within a sludge chamber where the sludge sinks to the bottom of the tank. The remaining water rises to the top where it is passed through a filter that acts as a bacterial biomass further removing any potential contaminants or dangerous pathogens.
- Irrigation – Finally the cleansed water is pumped to a separate tank. Whilst recycled blackwater will never be safe for human consumption it is safe to use for irrigation purposes or rerouted to use back through the toilet systems.
Blackwater recycling systems not only save thousands of wasted litres of household water but also that the household is not contaminating the local ecosystem.
Poorly insulated homes lose as much as 60% of their heat through their solid structures (walls, roofs and floors). One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to reduce the amount of fossil fuel a household burns is by installing proper insulation, thankfully modern UK Building Regulations make this standard practice.
Passive Solar Heating
float8 always looks to utilise the most innovative and sustainable building techniques – passive solar heating as an intelligent, modern way of building where the design looks to take advantage of a building site, the climate and materials to minimise energy use.
In simple terms, a passive home collects heat as the sun shines through south-facing windows and retains it in the materials that store heat, known as thermal mass.
To be a successful passive home the design must have the below basic elements:
- Properly Orientated Windows – within 30 degrees due South that are visible to direct sunlight between at least 9am – 3pm.
- Thermal Mass – Heat absorbing materials such as concrete, brick, stone, tiles, water and phase changing products are some of the most efficient at storing heat.
- Distribution Mechanisms – solar heat energy is transferred and stored around the home by conduction, convection and radiation.
- Conduction – Conduction occurs when heat transfers between two objects (direct contact, such as feet touching the floor)
- Convection – Convection occurs when heat is transferred through a liquid or air. In a passive solar house convection is used to transfer heat through the air from one area/zone to another.
- Radiation – Radiation is the warmth you feel when standing behind a window or next to a log burner.
- Control Strategies – Technologies or materials installed to manage the solar exposure during the summer months – sunshades, electronic sensing devices, shutters, or operable vents and dampeners.
Heat pumps are a system that pump or move heat from one place to another by using a compressor and a circulating structure of liquid or gas refrigerant, through which heat is extracted from outside sources and pumped indoors. During the warmer months, the pump can be switched into reverse drawing heat from indoors and pumping it outside.
Heat pumps cost less to run and maintain than traditional heating systems, are inherently safer than combustible based heating systems whilst also reducing carbon emissions.
Solar Thermal Heating
The principle of solar heating works like a dark green hose lying in the sun. Solar thermal heating is the use of solar radiation as heat energy and should not be confused with photovoltaics, which produce electricity from the sunlight.
In solar thermal heating, the suns heat radiation is absorbed and then pumped to a solar storage, there the thermal energy is transmitted to a storage tank. If the solar energy is insufficient a conventional heating system will heat up the storage tank to the desired temperature.
Solar thermal heating provides an unlimited supply of free energy and where no CO2 emissions are produced in the process.
Photovoltaics, or solar panels as they are commonly known, work by allowing light particles to knock electrons free from atoms, in turn generating a free flow of electricity. Although PV cells have a high upfront cost, this cost can usually be offset by long term use.
Wind turbines create clean energy without producing any emissions that could cause damage to the environment. On a domestic scale, turbines usually come either mounted on poles or attached to the fabric of the house.
Typically, 10% of energy produced is wasted in transportation from source to final destination. float8 aims towards a localised energy network on all floating developments, whereby energy is generated on site, or at least very close to site, in turn reducing the energy wasted in transportation.
Just as it is possible to make homes float, it is also possible to make floating green space or floating gardens. If floating gardens are integrated within a floating development, it is possible to create an area where nature could develop and grow in all its abundance under the watchful eye of its urban inhabitants.
Porosity (The Ability to Attach)
To further encourage natural flora and fauna to thrive alongside the needs of the human population, it is possible to attach submerged nets to the underside of the pontoon providing an easy structure for organisms and algae to attach themselves to. As the algae becomes denser the complexity of food chain feeding on the algae also grows until a point where the body of water becomes as ecologically rich as it would have been pre-development.