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World-Changing Ideas

Eco-check: The climate-change dashboard in our homes

We know how many miles per gallon our car does, but how many of us know how much energy we use at home? One architect has a solution to help us to help the environment.

The biggest threat to us all right now is climate change, says Angela Brady, President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, but there are ways in which we can have a positive effect on reducing emissions through housing and the way we live.

The biggest challenge that architects face is convincing people to change their mindset. Many people design buildings from the outside inwards, because they want to make an impression on the skyline. But Brady thinks we need to design buildings from the inside outwards, so that you see how the building is going to function well. We shouldn’t build old-style buildings that are not up to scratch in terms of their energy use. We have the technology to design buildings for our children’s children.

People are beginning to buy more sustainable homes, but the missing link is that we don’t know how much energy we use. We know how many miles per gallon our car does, yet in our homes we don’t even know the units that we use every week or every year. It’s costing us a lot of money, but it’s also damaging the environment, using up fossil fuels and putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

So what Brady wants to do is to have a big dashboard in homes, so that people can see immediately how much electricity, or water, or gas they are using, and the cost of this. This type of eco-check could also give you ideas for how you could reduce your carbon dioxide footprint in your home, whether it is insulation, sealing draughts or water reduction. There are lots of simple things we can do to make a difference.

We have to take individual responsibility for this, and see it as a positive thing. If we want a future not overtaken by an out-of-control climate, now is the time to act in whatever way we can.

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