Eco homes in Bulgaria?
Problems associated with the climatic changes and the environment that are much discussed in recent years led to necessity of developing such projects that require the usage of the great variety of strategies for energy saving. This - from one hand and decreasing the influence of the existence of these buildings over the environment – from the other and last but not least – forming resources for recycling of the building materials happens to be quite a big problem especially when renewing the building fund.
In this connection, the term “stable development” appeared meaning work in two directions – satisfying people’s needs and simultaneously keeping the natural resources for future generations or simply said – sensible and purposefully usage of the natural resources. This is one of the basic principals in the ecological way of living.
Thus the so called “ecological building” was born – a structure that is designed to create and sustain mutually beneficial relationships with all of the elements of its local ecology.
Obviously, this new ecological direction in building provokes a huge interest among both designers and home owners all over the world. Different certificates to prove the environmental credentials of the buildings have been worked out which certificates by the way are all quite similar in their parameters and the stage of their certification.
In order that these new standards are being used in practice it is not enough to talk about them but it is very important to provide the needed resources, time, ambition and many efforts to build a whole system for stable development based on specific purposes and results. There are several certificates in the world that cover the new ecological standards.
The UK certificate for eco buildings
BREEAM (Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method) is the leading and most widely used environmental assessment method for buildings. Developed in the early 1990s, based on many years of construction and environmental research, it sets the standard for best practice in sustainable design and has become the de facto measure used to describe a building’s environmental performance.
The version of the BREAM certificate for houses is Ecohomes. It provides an authoritative rating for new, converted or renovated homes, and covers houses, flats and apartments. Ecohomes balances environmental performance with the need for a high quality of life and a safe and healthy internal environment. Many of the issues are optional, ensuring Ecohomes is flexible enough to be tailored to a particular development or market.
BREEAM is used by Clients, planners’ development agencies, funders and developers to specify the sustainability performance of their buildings in a way that is quick, comprehensive, highly visible in the marketplace and provides a level playing field.
Property agents use it to promote the environmental credentials and benefits of a building to potential purchasers and tenants.
Design teams use it as a tool to improve the performance of their buildings and their own experience and knowledge of environmental aspects of sustainability.
Managers use it to reduce running costs, measure and improve the performance of buildings, empower staff, develop action plans and monitor and report performance at both the single building and portfolio level.
We can say that BREEAM is the leading environmental assessment method for buildings, with over 110,000 buildings certified and over half a million registered for certification. BREEAM is used all around the world and can be used to assess a single development or a portfolio of developments both within and across national boundaries. BREEAM has a particular benefit in that it can be readily adapted to local regulation and conditions.
Specific versions of BREEAM are available for the UK, the Gulf and Europe. BREEAM schemes can also be tailored for use for any specific country or region, and will address the following:
- categories of environmental issues
- environmental weightings
- details of the construction methods, products and materials
- references to local codes, standards and good practice guides
The objective of BREEAM Europe is to drive the construction industry in each country over and above the local building regulations. Even if the set of issues being assessed under BREEAM Europe is the same across the whole region, each building assessed under BREEAM Europe is compared against a national baseline. An Excellent building in Sweden may therefore be different from an Excellent building in Bulgaria.
Another major objective of BREEAM Europe is also to recognize local context and issues, and to give the opportunity to design teams in each country to have their local best practice codes and standards recognized. Country specific reference sheets are available alongside the BREEAM Europe manual to indicate any information or standards specific to the country of assessment. A process has also been put in place to allow the BREEAM International assessor and the design team to determine whether other local best practice construction codes can be recognized in the assessment.
Different countries have different climates which may impact on:
- Cooling strategy & energy consumption
- Type of renewable technologies
- Different infrastructures which may impact on:
- Capacity to recycle waste
- Capacity to cycle to and form buildings
It is important to know that the assessment proving the environmental credentials of a building in accordance with BREEAM certificate is made by independent assessors only who have the required training. Assessments can be carried out at different stages: at design stage, within the construction process or at post construction stage but the best option is at design stage because assessments could be carried out from the very beginning through the whole planning process thus providing more possibilities. As previously mentioned the valuation is made by independent assessor but the certificate is issued from the UK Company BRE Global.
In Bulgaria, still there are no BREEAM certificate trained assessors but probably in the near future this will happen because the company has already opened an office in the country. A BREEAM certified building has many advantages such as quality of life, planning and safety of the costs, increased quality of the property itself, positive effect on the environment, high level of security and last but not least considerably decreased energy consumption and all running costs.
If we summarize all the above said perhaps here comes the conclusion that this is the future as seen by the former futurologists and that this ecological building is not just a new trend but a necessity and a way out of threatening global glow and decreasing of the resources world wide. More over, the raise of the cost of such building is more than slightly compared to the advantages it offers to its occupants as well as to the environment itself.
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