Mapua School

Mapua - The good, the bad, and the ugly

Amazing Architecture

We chose to look at environmentally friendly architecture because we believe that it plays an important part in preserving the environment. In the past, houses were built for shelter using the most accessible resources. These days environmentally friendly homes are being built using sustainable resources which also significantly reduce the carbon footprint.

We had a visit from a local architect who has worked on some environmentally friendly homes in Mapua. He told us that one of the goals of being environmentally friendly when it comes to building is to use sustainable resources. We learned about the first and second rules of thermo-dynamics which helped us understand about the greatest energy source in the world – the SUN!!! It is very important to site your house facing NORTH in order to absorb as much of the sun's energy as possible.

Solar Energy

Questions answered by local architect.

Q: How do solar panels absorb the sun’s power to make energy?
A: The solar panels are divided up into 3 groups. The bottom is black, so it absorbs the sun's heat, which then heats up the water inside the copper pipe in the middle. The heated water then goes into the hot water cylinder.

Q: What happens if there’s very little sunshine?
A: After a couple of days without sun, you might need to turn your electricity back on to heat your water.

Q: Can solar panels store energy?
A: It’s stored in the hot water cylinder until the water is used up.

Q: How much does it cost to get a power line connected to your house compared to solar panels?
A: It depends on where you live. If you live quite close to the road, (like in Mapua) it can cost as little as $1,500 for a power line. However, if you live far away in the country, it can cost as much as $50,000. To install solar panels, it costs about $4,500, so you actually save money on solar.

We looked at the positives and negatives of both environmentally friendly homes and normal homes and their features. We decided that it is also important that environmentally friendly homes aren't just sustainable but are also comfortable to live in.

Positives of a 'normal' home

  1. Cost.
    The cost of a normal home is approximately 10% cheaper to build but an environmentally friendly home pays this off because of energy savings over time.

  2. Looks.
    A normal home might look more attractive but you can build the environmentally friendly homes to look different but attractive as well.

Negatives of a 'normal' home

  1. Health
    A normal home is not as healthy as an environmentally friendly home. For example - paints, lead-based paints are very dangerous. Small chips of lead containing lead paint dust can create health risks. It can also contaminate the environment. The ‘Health and Safety Employment Act’ requires workers to have a safe working environment so they can have a healthy and safe environment.

  2. Cost
    As you can see cost is both a positive and a negative. This is because it is cheap when you first build it but in the long run a normal home becomes far more expensive.

  3. Comfort
    It has to be known that an environmentally friendly home is actually more comfortable than a normal home. It is because an environmentally friendly home is up to 5 degrees warmer in the winter and 10 degrees cooler in the summer.

  4. Shelter
    A normal home does not provide the same shelter as an environmentally friendly home. It is colder in winter and warmer in summer and it has a higher fire danger than an environmentally friendly home.