Sustainable building

Building is, by its very nature, not overly environmentally friendly. Lots of energy and materials go into creating products for your house but we need somewhere to live, so the best approach is to minimise the environmental impact through using products that are sustainable, recyclable, design with water and energy savings in mind, and use technologies to lower energy use.

An Eco-Friendly Sustainable House Can be Achieved

Planning ahead will make your home more eco-friendly and energy efficient to help you save on winter power bills. With building and building occupation making up to 50% of the contribution to worldwide carbon generation, you can also help prevent global warming.

Three first steps:

1. Site design

  • How best can you get winter sun into the house?
  • How can you use vegetation for shade and temperature control?

2. Sustainable Design

  • Use nature to achieve all-year round comfort (e.g. concrete floor for passive solar gain in winter, overhangs for shade in summer).
  • Use salvaged materials where appropriate.
  • Specify water-efficient appliances and energy-efficient appliances and lighting.
  • If you can’t afford everything now, future-proof by installing appropriate pipes into your house and/or concrete slab so you can install solar hot water and hot water heating later.

3. Designer

  • Be well-informed and clear about what you want, then choose someone who understands what you want and with whom you can work.
  • Ask how experienced they are at designing sustainable houses and ask to see examples of their work.
Sustainable Earth House

10 steps to long-term sustainability

  1. Design your home to take advantage of its location while saving power, water and money.
  2. Use environmentally friendly materials where possible.
  3. For maximum natural light, make good use of windows and skylights.
  4. Good-quality insulation, correctly installed, will make your house easier and cheaper to heat – install higher-ratings than the minimum requirement.
  5. Build water efficiency into your home through low-flow showers and toilets and grey water recycling where possible.
  6. Good ventilation creates a healthy home – high moisture levels are linked to health problems like asthma and eczema and is harder (and more expensive) to heat.
  7. Double-glazing will insulate your house while letting heat in to encourage passive heating. Investigate modern thermal window joinery.
  8. Reuse or recycle building and renovation waste.
  9. Good design and material selection can achieve high standards of energy-efficiency for little or no additional cost.
  10. For internal finishes,use good insulators such as curtains and carpets,and use products such as paints that are made with the environment in mind.

Further reading

Sustainable Design