The PRL Blog

The Arts and Crafts movement: honouring tradition in modern homes

Arts and Crafts - a timeless classic   The Arts and Crafts movement, which emerged in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, remains a timeless inspiration for home design today. Rooted in a philosophy of craftsmanship, simplicity and respect for natural materials, Arts and Crafts architecture offers a unique blend of traditional and modern elements. By incorporating elements of Arts and Crafts design into your current home or new build, and adding your own unique style, you can create a space that is both aesthetically pleasing and deeply meaningful. So, let the spirit of the Arts and Crafts movement…
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Net Zero Carbon homes are gaining in popularity

Built to last As a background to Carl Dodd's personal Scottish border NZC build (based on an adapted traditional vernacular design), we wanted to write about the concept of Net Zero Carbon homes, and explore why you could consider building one, discuss the benefits of living in such a home, and provide practical tips on making your current home more energy efficient. (c) Carl Dodd / PRL - KLB - Scottish Net Zero Carbon New Build (on-going) If Carl's build has inspired you to build your own sustainable home, or make energy-efficient upgrades to your existing home, every step toward…
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Why improving indoor air quality matters

  'All we need is the air that we breathe…' When we think about air pollution, we often picture smog-filled city streets or industrial emissions. However, the quality of the air inside our homes and buildings can also have a significant impact on our health and well-being. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) refers to the cleanliness and purity of the air within enclosed spaces such as: homes, offices, schools and public buildings. It encompasses factors such as the presence of pollutants, levels of humidity, and ventilation rates. Poor indoor air quality can lead to a range of health issues, including respiratory…
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Affordable warmth for all: heating your home sustainably

Staying warm and comfortable in colder temperatures Ensuring that everyone has access to affordable warmth is a crucial aspect of sustainable living. Affordable warmth refers to the ability to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature without experiencing financial hardship. This Blog Post explores what affordable warmth means, why it's important, and provides practical guidance on how everyone can heat their homes sustainably. Affordable warmth is about more than just heating your home; it's about ensuring that everyone has the means to stay warm and comfortable, regardless of their income or housing situation. It's a fundamental aspect of social and environmental justice, as…
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Water neutrality: what it is and how you can achieve it

Understanding water neutrality In an era of increasing concern about water scarcity and environmental sustainability, the concept of water neutrality has gained prominence. But what exactly does it mean, and how can individuals work towards achieving it? In this Blog post, we'll delve into the concept of water neutrality, exploring its significance and providing practical guidance on reducing water consumption to minimise your water footprint. Water neutrality is a concept aimed at balancing the amount of water consumed, with the amount of water returned to the environment, through conservation and restoration efforts. Essentially, it involves striving to ensure that the…
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How we can all take steps to preserve biodiversity

What exactly is biodiversity? Biodiversity is the diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems. It is declining globally, faster than at any other time in human history. The world's 7.6 billion people represent just 0.01% of all living things by weight, but humanity has caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of all plants. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse is one of the top five risks in the World Economic Forum's 2020 Global Risks Report, too. How biodiversity can help our health Higher rates of biodiversity have been linked to an increase in health. Plants are essential…
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How to make 2024 a greener year

A New Year brings a whole host of lifestyle opportunities The New Year gives us all time to reflect on our lifestyles and consider how we can make positive changes for the planet. Green New Year's resolutions not only benefit the environment, but can also lead to a healthier, more sustainable way of life. In this Blog, we'll explore a variety of creative and impactful resolutions for 2024. These are my New Year Resolutions for 2024: 1 - I would like to re-do my Carbon Footprint using the WWF Carbon Footprint Calculator (https://footprint.wwf.org.uk) - and review my Net Zero Carbon…
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How to have a ‘greener’ Christmas

Have yourself a merry green Christmas... As the festive season approaches, the joy of Christmas often comes hand-in-hand with excess and waste. However, it's entirely possible to enjoy a merry Christmas while being mindful of our impact on the planet. In this Blog, we'll explore creative and eco-friendly ways for us all to have a green and sustainable Christmas. Food preparation Mindful meal planning: Plan your Christmas meals carefully to avoid overbuying. Estimate portion sizes and create shopping lists to minimise food waste. Local and seasonal ingredients: Choose local and seasonal produce. Not only does this support local farmers, but…
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Christmas trees: real vs. fake – which is the more environmentally friendly option?

The big question... Real Christmas trees may be better for the environment, but, you may be asking, aren't artificial or fake Christmas trees a better option? No, just because they are re-used year after year, it does not mean that they are more sustainable. This is due to the typical rules of sustainability not applying when it comes to the humble Christmas tree. The Christmas tree debate on real vs. artificial (and which benefits the environment more), has been ongoing for decades. The debate is not helped by the fact that artificial Christmas trees can last many years, if they're…
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A breath of fresh air: home ventilation and sustainable living

As winter draws in… Although you may feel like closing the curtains tight and shutting all windows to keep the cold air out, this practice could be harming your home - and yourself. It's only natural as the air outside gets colder, to want to cosy-up indoors - but in doing so, we are also in danger of blocking out the fresh air that we need so much. With sustainable living, we often focus on energy-efficient appliances, renewable energy sources, and eco-friendly materials. However, one crucial aspect that is sometimes overlooked is home ventilation. The air we breathe within our…
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Heat pumps: all you need to know

The heat pump grant With the news that the government's homeowner's heat pump grant has been increased to £7,500, we take a look at why heat pumps lower pollution and energy bills. Heat pumps emit far less pollution than gas boilers and can lower bills, but they are expensive to buy - the government is hoping that the scheme will lower the cost of installing a new heat pump, in line with that of a gas boiler. There are 27 million old gas and oil boilers and the aim is to replace 600,000 a year, but the current rate is…
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It’s never too early to winter-proof your home

  The perfect time of the year to plan ahead There are better ways to keep warm than simply turning up the heating. This is PRLs guide to making your home more energy-efficient. Even though we are about to enter another heatwave (in October!) there has never been a better time to make positive, winter-proofing changes. Draughts You need to find out where heat escapes from - and cold air enters. Places that may let in draughts include windows, doors, floorboards, chimneys and loft hatches. Hold a candle near windows, doors and other areas to see if the flame dances…
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Our 2050 net zero target: watered down or more realistic?

  All change… for now at least As PM Rishi Sunak has recently announced plans to weaken some of the government's green commitments, we take a look at what this means. The new-look plans include a delay on banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, and policies being scrapped that would force landlords to upgrade efficiency in their homes. Even before these latest changes though, the UK was being criticised for falling behind in its efforts to reach "net zero" by 2050. This date marks a key international target intended to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Mr Sunak…
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The many benefits of choosing to live in a tiny home

The draw of tiny home living In an era characterised by environmental concerns, economic realities, and a growing desire for minimalism, the concept of tiny home living has gained remarkable popularity. Tiny homes are compact, efficient living spaces that prioritise functionality, sustainability and a simplified lifestyle. For those considering a shift towards this unique way of living, the benefits extend far beyond the reduced square footage. Embracing sustainable living through tiny homes Sustainability is at the forefront of global consciousness, and tiny homes provide an ideal platform for putting eco-friendly principles into action. Tiny homes inherently have a smaller carbon footprint due…
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Sustainable living: reducing waste by up-cycling old furniture

Reducing waste in a thoughtful and creative way Up-cycling old furniture is an easy and sustainable way to give your space a fresh look, without breaking the bank, or harming the environment. As our population continues to grow, so does the amount of waste we produce. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce this waste - and help make a difference for the environment. Benefits of sustainable living There are many benefits of sustainable living, but one of the most important is reducing waste. When we up-cycle old furniture, we are giving it a new life and extending its usefulness. This…
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How walking in forests and woods can ease our modern-day stress

How Shinrin-yoku can lead us towards a more sustainable and healthy way of living In the hustle and bustle of modern life, finding moments of tranquillity and connection with nature can be challenging. However, the ancient practice of Shinrin-yoku, also known as 'forest bathing', offers a refreshing and rejuvenating solution. Originating from Japan, Shinrin-yoku involves immersing oneself in the peaceful embrace of forests and woodlands to reap numerous physical, mental, and emotional benefits. So, let's embark on a journey into the heart of nature and discover how Shinrin-yoku can lead us towards a healthier way of life. What is Shinrin-yoku, and…
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How rainwater harvesting can help to conserve energy

Rainwater harvesting: an eco-friendly practice In our pursuit of sustainability, it is essential to explore innovative ways to conserve precious resources and reduce our ecological footprint. Rainwater harvesting offers a simple, yet effective, solution. By collecting and utilising rainwater, homeowners can reduce their reliance on mains water, which often uses significant energy for treatment and distribution. Understanding rainwater harvesting and its benefits Rainwater harvesting is the practice of collecting and storing rainwater that falls on rooftops and other surfaces. The collected rainwater can then be utilised for various non-potable purposes, such as watering gardens, flushing toilets, and washing clothes. This environmentally friendly…
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How rewilding and peat restoration play a vital part in achieving Sustainability

  Two key practices that contribute significantly to sustainability In the pursuit of achieving a sustainable future, it is crucial to explore and implement various approaches that restore and protect our ecosystems. Rewilding involves restoring natural habitats and reintroducing native species, while peat restoration focuses on rehabilitating degraded peatlands. Why rewilding is so important Rewilding plays a vital role in achieving sustainability by fostering biodiversity, improving ecosystem resilience, and mitigating the impacts of climate change. By creating larger and interconnected habitats, rewilding helps to restore natural ecological processes, support endangered species, and enhance ecosystem services such as pollination, water purification…
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How changing your diet can make a difference in the fight against climate change

Our food's ecological footprint We hope that you enjoy reading our foray into all things food - we appreciate that not everyone wants to change their diet, but we thought we would give you some… 'food for thought'! If you are looking for a way to make a meaningful impact on the fight against climate change, maybe it is time to look at what you are eating. The food we consume has an ecological footprint, starting from the resources used to grow and transport it, through to its carbon emissions during production and disposal. By changing our diets, we can…
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The importance of energy sufficiency in achieving a sustainable future

An introduction to energy sufficiency The term "energy sufficiency" refers to the societal need for access to enough energy resources that don't cause environmental damage. In order to achieve a sustainable future, it is important to become energy efficient and use renewable resources. Many individuals and businesses are now beginning to understand the importance of energy sufficiency in order to achieve sustainability. Achieving energy sufficiency will require a major shift in how we produce and use energy. It is essential that we move away from our dependency on fossil fuels and towards using renewable energy sources that are environmentally friendly.…
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One Planet Living: How to tread lightly on the Earth

Just how low can you go? How can you have a low impact, low carbon lifestyle, without sacrificing comfort or principles? You can make a start by using the WWF Carbon Footprint Calculator.  WWF: "Our world is in crisis - from climate change to the pollution in our oceans and devastation of our forests. It's up to all of us to fix it…" We all know that we need to take steps towards a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle, but how do we go about this? One answer is 'treading lightly', an increasingly popular philosophy for reducing our carbon footprint and…
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Damp and Mould: Why education and retrofit are key to eradicating the health scourge of bad housing

Damp and Mould: two of the most common problems in poorly maintained housing The more people who can live a decent life by being kept out of fuel poverty and out of hospital, the better off the entire country is. Take a look at this Headline: Tackling cold homes would save the NHS £540mn per year, new BRE research reveals Here I examine the causes and health impacts of damp and mould and explore how education and retrofitting can help to eradicate these problems, particularly in low-income communities. Causes of damp and mould Damp and mould are caused by excess…
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Turning the tide on pollution: the future of sustainable plastic management

Why it's essential that we turn the tide Plastic pollution has been a pressing issue for decades now, and it's high time we take action to turn the tide on this problem. As we continue to use more plastic products in our daily lives, it's vital that we explore new ways of managing plastics sustainably. In this blog, we'll dive into some promising solutions that are set to revolutionise how we produce, consume and dispose of plastics. The initial problem The problem of plastic pollution is not new, but it has gained increased attention in recent years as the volume…
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In praise of wind power

A new dawn for supersized wind turbines in the UK? Supersize onshore wind turbines that reach twice the height of Big Ben could be built in England if the de facto ban is lifted. The current tallest wind turbine in England is 126.5m at a site in Essex. Bank Renewables, which developed the wind farm in South Lanarkshire, said it would be looking for sites in England if the ban were revoked. The effective ban was put in place in 2015 by tightening planning restrictions in the National Planning Policy Framework. To end the ban, the relevant planning regulations should be scrapped or clearly…
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How much should I pay for a plastic shopping bag?

It's an inconvenient fact but… everyone should be thinking like this these days (we live in the plastic age, after all). Every plastic bag that's produced for consumers to carry their goods home should have a price attached. Or, every shopper should be responsible for bringing their own bags into the store with them. Did you know that a reinforced, reusable plastic bag has a lower footprint than a paper one? Many shops have now moved to paper bags, which is progress, but also still a waste, because these get thrown away too, often after only one use. Awareness needs to…
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Mr Angry goes zero! (nearly)

The biggest picture Well, it was bound to happen! Since the shock of the Russian invasion of Ukraine I've been thinking of ways to reduce the use of gas, as a sign of protest. In February we (my wife and I) curtailed our gas usage quite a lot, and it felt good too, at least we made a token gesture. However, I knew that this protest about an unjust war was not the only problem right now. The big (est) picture is the Climate Crisis. The chaos in our country seems to be omnipresent, and it's also a cost-of-living crisis,…
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The Circular Economy: it’s time to rethink plastic use

Re-thinking our plastic usage It is clear to us at PRL that the thinking on plastics needs to radically change. Plastics may be versatile materials, but the way we use them is totally wasteful. Every year, millions of tonnes of plastic, worth billions, ends up being trashed, burned or leaked into the environment. 8 million tonnes of plastic leaks into the ocean every year, and that number is on the up. If we don't rethink, then by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish (by weight). So, is it really possible to rethink the way we…
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The Retrofit solution to climate change

From record-breaking heatwaves... to biblical flooding The effects of Climate Change are definitely being felt around the world. Think about the floods of biblical proportions, and the annual forest fires that can't be controlled. Each record being broken is a step closer to an environmental collapse. Do you think that 2050 is too distant to care about? It's not, but you would not think that if you listened to the world leaders. Their soundbites are constructed to relay a very optimistic message: '...there is no climate emergency'. The analogy of the Boiling Frog springs to mind here. If searingly hot,…
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There are less than 10,000 days to do… the road to net zero carbon

I recently read an interesting article which stated that if you count the number of days left until the UK has to meet its net zero carbon target, there are now less than 10,000 days to go. For context: 10,000 days ago was March 31st, 1995! What we have achieved since 1995 seems startlingly, woefully inadequate. We are at the halfway point - but we are not really halfway there. Since 1995, the names may have changed, but the problems haven't. The Challenge is even greater now Waiting for the amazing carbon capture revolution, the massive tree planting campaigns and…
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