Many people live in homes with small windows and little sunshine indoors, either because the house faces the wrong way, the windows are on the wrong wall to receive direct sunshine, or because the windows are poorly placed or inadequately sized. Why do we need sunshine? Sunshine, and natural daylight, have been proven to be essential for our health and well-being The natural light improves mood, reduces stress, it even reduces healing times after surgery. Sunlight makes us happy. Our homes need as much light as we can get, for them to nurture us and be the havens we need. Our homes need to support us, by being uplifting places to come home to after a busy week at work.
Wasting money on bureaucracy, or anything else, is never a good idea. However planning departments must change and as tax payers we must invest in that change. Whether elected officials or council planning officers, we need people who understand the bigger picture of a healthy community, and the general principles of design for health and wellbeing in response to environmental degradation, climate change and rising energy costs. Some local authorities are forging ahead, while some lag behind.
The planning process needs to be streamlined so people who want / need to retrofit their homes, to make them more energy efficient (thermal slab flooring or walls, larger windows on the south side, smaller windows on the north, opening windows all around), in addition to the usual double glazing, condenser boilers and insulation, can do so.
Privacy is touted as the main reason people can't have windows in their walls! However, just as climate change is changing the way we live, (snow, drought deluges of rain) so planners are learning about the benefits of more light, and the environmental imperative of green living, and so are relaxing some of their previously inflexible stance re street review We cannot go on as before.
With smart urban planning and green urban design planners and elected officials will be championing the new healthy way to (re) design our homes and our towns.
Once you have mapped where the sun shines on your wall and installed new large double glazed windows on the sunny side, added insulation, energy efficient appliances and an efficient boiler , to complete the process you need some planting. With appropriate planting people can have natural daylight, sunlight when it shines, and enjoy a screened view of and by the neighbours. With companies spending millions on research and development of simulated natural daylight options for healthcare, it is time to stop and ask where are the people standing up and recommending windows, the real, opening thing?
Whether you live in an eco town or are interested in living in green cities, retrofitting your home to be more energy efficient, allow more natural light in and retain more warmth is a smart way to save money and save the planet at the same time.