An academic has been laying the foundations for greener living in a new book based on a zero-carbon house in Birmingham.
Dr Lubo Jankovic from Birmingham City University has revealed the blueprint for designing homes which are more energy-efficient – and cost effective.
The sustainable design expert says he hopes his new book, called Designing Zero Carbon Buildings, would encourage both designers and members of the public to think greener when it came to designing their homes.
Part of his research was carried out at Zero Carbon House in Balsall Heath, a converted Victorian home which became the first carbon neutral home in the region.
Dr Jankovic said: “As we increasingly become aware of the causes and consequences of the climate change, there is a sense that we are dealing with an almost impossible problem to solve, that our targets for zero carbon buildings are far in the future – and that our targets are hard to achieve.
“But I believe that this book will help with culture change, from the perception that the climate change arising from carbon emissions is almost an impossible problem to solve, to the understanding that it is perfectly possible to design new or retrofit zero carbon buildings using existing technologies.
“If you write, you want to be read, and the book is reaching people here in the UK, Europe, China and America.
“The feedback I’ve had so far has been very good.
“There’s something for everybody – it explains fundamental principles which everybody can understand as well as more technical points.”
A whole chapter in the book is dedicated to the Zero Carbon house in Tindall Street, Balsall Heath.
Far from being a show home, the house is the family home of architect John Christophers, who lives there with his wife Jo and son Theo.
The couple bought the house for £130,000 in 2007, and spent the next two-and-a-half years working to turn it into their dream eco house.
The original 170-year-old two-bedroom terrace remained but next to it, on a vacant plot of land, John built an extension.
He kept the Victorian section two storeys, but made the extension three floors with a vast empty room on the top floor with wonderful views across the city.
Birmingham City University has spent the last monitoring the property’s temperature, electricity production and consumption to see just how energy efficient it is.
Dr Jankovic added there were many improvements people could make to their existing homes to cut down on carbon emissions.
He said: “Turning down your thermostat by just one degree can result in a 10 per cent saving, while closing blinds early on a sunny day can keep the building cool and cut down on the need for air conditioning.
“In the winter, people should think about insulation to keep the heat in.”
Publication of Dr Jankovic’s book comes as Birmingham City University was ranked among the top 30 greenest universities in the UK.
The Green League, compiled by the People and Planet campaigning network, is an independent table of UK universities ranked by environmental and ethical performance, rated the university 26th out of 145 universities – up from 53rd in 2011– on a number of criteria including environmental policy, energy sources, fair trade involvement and waste and recycling.
Leading the way in the West Midlands in joint 11th place overall – and a “first class honours” prize was Aston University and the University of Worcester.
The University of Wolverhampton climbed from 80 last year to 53, while the University of Birmingham fell from 73 in 2011 to 89.
Professor Julia King, Vice-Chancellor of Aston University said: “The first class honours award is a significant accolade, which goes alongside the Gold EcoCampus Standard which was granted to Aston in 2011.
“Together they demonstrate that it is possible for a world class, research intensive University to lead the way and deliver ambitious carbon management plans, reduce waste, and create a sustainable campus community.”