Going green is no longer an approach taken by only a small minority of people. Luckily, many have caught on to the fact that being more eco-friendly and sustainable is simply a necessity if want the environment to survive as we know it.
For those who are looking to introduce some green solutions into their future home builds, weíve collected a few important lessons learned from those who have already succeeded.
1. Donít underestimate planning
Good intentions are admirable, but back this up with careful and considered planning. Itís not all about solar panels and electric charging stations, sometimes reducing your energy consumption takes methods that are not so obvious.
For instance, using non-sustainable materials such as metals and concrete in the short-term might seem anti-intuitive, but if this could improve insulation and contribute to a home that requires less energy to heat overall, this could off-set your carbon footprint in the long-run.
Simply adding a solar panel imported from another country might end up actually having a negative effect on your green plans, especially if you donít generate enough energy from it annually. If you want to do it the right way, consider consulting a sustainable designer or architect for some advice.
2. Approach your home as a whole
Donít just focus on the exterior of your home and obvious green aspects such as insulation. You should also be looking at how your home functions as a whole. This includes things like the furniture you buy and the material choices for your cabinets, for example. It would be better to invest in items that are more expensive and last a number of decades rather than cheaper, initially more sustainable objects, that need to be replaced year to year.
Consider natural and sustainable flooring alternatives, such as timber, bamboo and cork. Thereís hundreds of examples of homes that are both eco-friendly and aesthetically amazing that you can draw your inspiration form.
3. Use your energy wisely
Itís common that most of our energy usage comes from heating our homes and our water supplies. To get around this, put some thought into how you can best use the energy you use to go further. For example, with underfloor heating a home can require much less energy to be warmed, as heat can be spread more evenly through the surface of the floor, up through the whole house in an efficient and thermodynamic way.
An old trick is simply using the sunís heat to warm your home and trapping it. With south facing windows that pull in heat during the day, and appropriate insulation, you can use the sunís natural energy to warm up your home without using your radiator at all.
4. Reuse or recycle existing items
Eco-builds donít need to look like futurist cubes intricately designed to use zero energy. A good eco build uses existing materials and recycles them. Work with your designer or contractor to figure out what can be salvaged and youíll be helping to lower the homeís overall footprint.
5. Get expert advice
Some people specialise in the design of buildings that are environmentally sound and sustainable. And despite what you might think, it can actually be incredibly affordable consulting them on home build projects. You might have to search for the right person, but there are a number of architecture firms that offer solutions to homeowners when it comes to building realistic eco-friendly homes.
You could also contact specific contractors such as underfloor heating system installers and floor preparation specialists who will use a number of different materials such as anhydrite screed to install a flooring solutions that works with your energy requirements and desire to build a sustainable home.
6. Use local products and materials
A large part of being sustainable is working within your local area to source your materials and labour. If your goal is to build a home that takes less energy to actually build as well uses less energy when it is built, try your best to use local products and tradesmen rather than importing expensive technology from abroad, such as PV panels.