We Must Stop Building Poor Quality HousesWe live in an era when our homes have the potential to be energy efficient, comfortable and affordable places to live, despite ever increasing fuel prices. In the past it could be argued that we didn't know how to achieve this but today we have no excuses. Yet, on the whole, we continue to build new houses to a pathetic standard, and our refurbishments commonly concentrate on kitchens and bathrooms, rather than investing to provide warm and pleasant places to live without ruinously high fuel bills.
Rapidly increasing world populations, finite fossil fuel reserves, and worries about security of supply, both because of political uncertainty and due to developing countries using more and more energy, should focus our minds on making energy efficiency a priority.
Why Make a Documentary on Airtightness?
Airtightness is the most unappreciated factor that contributes towards making buildings energy efficient. Whilst many people know about the importance of insulation when it comes to heat loss, few people realise that airtightness plays an even more significant role. Indeed, without good airtightness, most of our bulk insulation materials perform less well.
Airtightness is also somewhat mysterious, it isn't immediately visible, you can't put your hand on it. And perhaps we feel a bit unsettled about living in an airtight house? For example, do we harbour concerns that there is the risk of suffocating if the ventilation strategy goes wrong?!
This is why we want to make a documentary on airtight houses in order to put the myths to bed and shed light on why it really makes a lot of sense.
In this documentary we will aim to answer the follow questions:
- Why is airtightness important?
- What other factors need attention alongside airtightness? (Such as ventilation and moisture control)
- How is airtightness achieved?
- How do you test a house for airtightness?
- How does the airtightness of existing houses vary?
- What does it feel like to live in an airtight house?
Who is the Expert?
Paul Jennings from Aldas is an air leakage specialist with over 25 years experience. As such he's carried out airtightness tests on a huge variety of different buildings, including some of the most energy efficient in the UK.
I interviewed him on my podcast in 2013 and not only received some great information but I felt his desire for gearing up the construction industry to a higher level. If he is outspoken it's because there's such potential to do more.
On another level I feel that Paul has a good way of explaining things, which is really important for keeping a documentary like this accessible.
What is the Format of the Documentary?
It will be structured around a day in the life of Paul, although it may actually be filmed over a few days.
In style, it will be similar to one of Louis Theroux's documentaries, whereby I am asking the questions that the viewers might want to ask (as I already do on my podcast). I also hope to incorporate chats with homeowners and tradesman who Paul might meet as he carries out his work.
The documentary will be between 20-25 minutes in duration.
Who is it Aimed at?
This project is clearly going to be of most interest to people who are researching a house build and wondering what the best way is to go about things. However, we also really want to make this accessible for homeowners who may not be planning to build anything right now but see the sense of an energy-efficient house and want to learn more. There is a lot of greenwash around so we really want to provide good information.
Due to the content we also expect that construction professionals will be interested to see this.
If successful in our campaign, we would like to enter this film in the Regeneration Film Festival.
How Will the Funds be Used?
We have equipment and skills to shoot this project already.
The funds would allow us to get the script professionally structured, cover all of our transport costs and hire a professional editor to make this something really worth watching.
Who am I?
My name is Ben Adam-Smith and I am someone who is concerned how climate change will affect us all in the coming years. Instead of feeling belittled by the situation I wondered what personal action I could take and that's why in 2012 I set up the website House Planning Help, which explores what houses we should be building in the 21st century. You see, I noticed that the construction industry is responsible for a very high percentage of the overall carbon emissions in the world . . . in other words this is an area that can really make a difference if it embraces today's best practices.
As it would be foolish to cover everything I decided to focus on houses, not only an area that I love but the personal spaces we all control. In fact I set myself the challenge to create my own energy-efficient home before I turn 40 in August 2016.
Steve Folland - as a radio host for many years, Steve has an instinct for what makes compelling content. He will be able to enhance the script and make suggestions of how to keep things moving.
Elrond Burrell - an associate at one of the UK's leading sustainable architecture firms and an advocate of the Passivhaus standard, his input in the development stages will help bring clarity to the documentary.
Mike Coe - a former ITN News cameraman, Mike is passionate about action against climate change. As such he lives in a very energy-efficient, largely off-grid house himself.
Tim Waymouth - a broadcast editor with 20 years experience specialising in documentaries and factual entertainment genres.
Risks and challenges
I think one of the toughest parts of this project is pitching it at the right level. Creating energy-efficient homes is a subject that can get technical. I want to keep this accessible to any homeowner who wants to understand what it means to have a house of high quality. So it needs to be a mix of education and entertainment.
I will overcome this challenge by having one member of the team who will be learning about this content for the first time.
There is also a risk in getting permission to film at certain locations. Paul doesn't know where he will be working but we have organised back-up options in case.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)