GreenwashWhen someone mentions words such as "sustainable", "Energy Efficient", "Eco", "Green" and "Environmentally Friendly", what exactly do they mean?

These words often convey certain feelings of ethics and environmental protection, which society tends to place high value on, as we strive to protect the planet and live in harmony with our natural environment.

Yet such words are often overused or used inappropriately, whereby someone might use them to make vague, unrealistic, sweeping statements to make them or their product more appealing. This is known as "greenwash".

Electric cars are one potential example of greenwashing. Whilst they are likely to be less polluting than petrol and diesel cars by using electricity. Unless this electricity comes from a renewable source such as wind or solar power, the power is then likely to come from polluting power stations. We should also consider the impact of mining / producing electric vehicle batteries, which can cause environmental damage and health problems for those living and working in areas of battery production. Yet these cars are marketed as being "Sustainable" and "Eco". So whilst they might be more energy efficient than petrol alternatives, and are removing the harmful air born pollutants from our streets, care should be taken to fully understand the embodied energy and background facts to "eco" products such as electric cars.

In construction, it is sometimes difficult to gauge how energy efficient one building or product is over another. For example, what is the difference between mineral wool and wood fibre insulation? Care is therefore needed interrogate the facts in order to make an informed decision on specification. At Fox Ecological Architects, we are able to investigate products and materials to give you the best advice on specification. We aim to cut through the greenwash.