Apparently a group of people recently gathered in Paris to talk about the impact our society is having on the planet’s health. Something called climate change was mentioned a few times. After avidly watching the nightly news bulletins, we thought it would be interesting to compare Paris COP21 and our plans.
Will our plans help Australia meet its obligations? Are we on the right track or wandering off at a tangent?
Mr Google kindly provided a summary page for Paris COP21, not surprising titled “Outcomes of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris“.
Paris COP21 and domestic contributions
There is one item that jumps out when reading the summary. Every country is asked to establish binding commitments to make “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs), and to pursue domestic measures aimed at achieving them.
Nations have agreed to get through peak carbon emissions as quickly as possible. Next on the agenda is to set a goal of reaching net greenhouse gas neutrality in the second half of this century.
Are we going to help?
We think we will be contributing to Paris COP21 by doing our bit to reduce carbon emissions during the construction phase and, over the long term, how we use energy by living here.
Keep things here. If it’s already here and can be used for the new construction, don’t truck it away. We’ll avoid carbon emissions from transport by keeping it onsite. As the existing house is taken apart, everything will be reviewed for potential use in the new homes or landscaping of the new garden. No sense in trucking it away, only to truck in new materials later on.
Reduce carbon cost of purchased materials. Where possible, we’ll buy local to avoid materials travelling long distances (possibly even from overseas) to reach our site. Using Timbercrete for thermal mass in the walls is another way to reduce our carbon footprint. Timbercrete combines wood wastes in a cementitious mixture that is air dried. I think that’s a fancy way of saying you mix sawdust/wood chips with cement powder and leave it in the sun for a few months to harden. It’s a low energy way of locking up the carbon in the wood that would otherwise by released back to the atmosphere.
Low energy consumption. By incorporating passive design principles in the homes’ DNA, there will be reduced demand for heating and cooling energy. In fact, we aren’t planning on using anything fancier than ceiling fans and good ventilation for summer cooling. In winter, hydronic heating will be available if the combination of sunlight, thermal mass and insulation aren’t up to the task. Note to self – must check out the cost/benefit of upgrading to triple glazing for the windows.
Powered by the sun and the wind. Much of the electricity used in the home will come from solar panels feeding a battery. Excess energy generated in the day will go to the battery to be used that night. If we run the battery down, the most likely back-up system will be taking electricity from the grid. However, Powershop will provide us with GreenPower from their wind-farms. The aim is to go 100% renewable for our home. We’ll ensure the other two homes on the property can do the same if the owners choose to do so.
No natural gas for us thank-you. Since we’ll be using renewable energy sources, there won’t be a connection to the natural gas supply. Apart from avoiding this fossil fuel, it makes economic sense. Putting in efficient gas appliances does cut the bill but it reaches a point where most of the cost is paying for the connection fee. Even if no gas is used, it still costs to stay connected to the gas supply. Better not to connect in the first place.
Planning on doing what we can.
Oh, why not? Let’s make ourselves an official partner of Paris COP21. We’ll do what we can to implement the ambitious plan.