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Model view of a typical 1930s pair of semi detached houses, courtesy of ScaleScenes.

When my family and I moved into a 1930s semi-detached property a couple of years ago we made a few improvements to the house. One aspect was addressing the thermal performance as the building appeared to be poorly insulated and felt cold. In this story I would like to share what we have learnt and done, as well as what would be possible beyond that. Given that there are quite a few of those houses in the UK, I hope that our experience will be useful to others, with some measures being even transferable to other property types. …


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Aerial view of fields in East Anglia, courtesy of EnviroTec.

Whenever I come back to my adopted home country England by plane I feel elated looking down onto the beautiful country side, the lovely landscape, the fields and meadows in all shades of green, often surrounded by hedges. In between I notice all these little quaint villages made up of brick built houses; England seems to be God’s garden on earth indeed. Once landed and later on the train journey to Cambridge, I still enjoy looking out of the window while going past these neat houses in those villages. …


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On the eastern side of Ara Pacis, an altar in Rome dedicated to Pax, the Roman goddess of Peace, is a relief of Tellus Mater, the Roman earth-goddess. Tellus is the Roman version of Gaia.

The distribution of natural resources across the planet is not uniform, above ground such as forests or freshwater, and below ground such as metals, ores, coal, oil and gas. Lucky regions, nations or countries happen/ed to discover valuable resources beneath their feet, or available resources (have) become valuable over time. Exploiting and trading these resources has allowed, or still allows them to prosper, while others do not have that chance. Tough luck one might say. In this story, however, I would like to propose that taking resources from Gaia, mother earth, should entail a duty for the exploiting party: some…


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Book cover for Looking backward: 2000–1887 by Edward Belamy, Dover Thrift Edition.

Once, over an afternoon tea, my neighbour mentioned the 19th century author Edward Belamy, his book “Looking backwards: 2000–1887” and interesting predictions found therein. Having read the novel I thought I might share key concepts I highlighted for myself: a few have indeed become true to some extent, with some allowance for the concrete implementation, some seem desirable and society is moving towards them, at least in Continental Europe; some are more questionable, however, being reminiscent of totalitarian state control and being built on the premise of idealised people and behaviour. …


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Abstract representation of a network of electric minibuses

This story follows up on Thoughts on the Energy (and Carbon) Saving Potential for Personal Mobility by looking at one aspect only: public transport in the form of a smart minibus service for towns and small cities. This kind of service would employ electric minibuses and operate at an adaptive frequency schedule generated in real-time, possible by using machine learning, data science and mobile phone technologies. The resulting service would be most suitable for towns and small cities.

Rationale of Public Minibus Service for Towns

An important objective in personal mobility has to be the minimisation of both energy consumption and carbon footprint while maintaining a quality…


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Paper bag or plastic bag for life — which one is more environmentally friendly?

Many environmentally aware people may ask themselves questions such as: Should I be using a paper or a plastic bag, and if I do choose the plastic option, which kind of plastic bag should I be using, single use bag or bag for life? Similarly, should I buy milk in a glass bottle or in a compound material carton? And is an electric vehicle really “cleaner” than one with an internal combustion engine when the entire supply chain is included? How “green” are products that purport to help protecting the environment really, and by what standard and metric? How can…


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Murmuration over Brighton West Peer by Kevin Meredith, https://www.flickr.com/people/lomokev/

Humans like to make sense out of the observed world. Our sensors, e.g. our ears and eyes, feed our brain which appears to have the innate ability to create a mental model of the perceived world, i.e. an intellectual surrogate of a world, with abstract concepts for objects and their relationship in time and space. The Brain with David Eagleman gives an accessible explanation of the mechanisms and brain regions involved.

The personal models of our world, however, seem to be geared up mostly for causal relationships as we tend to think in terms of cause and effect; for instance…


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One of many local pastry shops as example for efficient producer — consumer path (Cafe Oberlaa, Vienna, IV)

In order to support our lives, individuals and households need to procure goods, from food over clothes and books to consumer goods, from essential to nice to have things. Reducing the number of goods would be the easiest way to reduce global energy and resource expenditure along with reducing the energy footprint of the items themselves. However, for all the things we do need (or want) to purchase in order to maintain our living standard, procurement could be made more energy efficient depending on the type of products. …


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Lacking a more relevant image, our cat Louis keeping me company in my home office during lock-down.

Many years ago a social sciences program on the Austrian National Radio channel ORF-Oe1 spoke about the concept of “fate as opportunity”. What stood out for me and what I still remember is that falling ill may be a sign of something not being quite right, a message from your body. Being forced to tread a bit lighter and pause life during an illness may be an occasion to re-evaluate one’s situation and take it as an opportunity for change.

That being said, perhaps the corona virus(SARS-CoV-2) pandemic could be seen in a similar vein as the world seems to…


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Having lived in England for the past two decades I have heard quite often: the humidity in our house is terrible in the cold seasons, condensation and mould is all over the place. Interestingly enough, in all properties we have lived so far we did not experience that. I wonder whether this might be due to our strict ventilation regime: airing long enough for a complete air exchange with all windows open several times a day, at least in the early morning and late evening, and also after every cooking session. …

Peter Wurmsdobler

Contributes to the technological foundations for the self-driving revolution at Five, UK. Interested in sustainable economies and renewable energy.

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