If you are looking to design or build a sustainable home, there are many aspects to consider. A sustainable home is a high performance structure that makes efficient use of local resources and energy. It also helps lower the negative impact on the environment as well as the cost of living.
Depending on your geographical location, there are certain systems that will make better use than others. Such as using solar panels, passive house design, geo-thermal temperature control, and natural ventilation systems. However, there are also other methods of creating an eco-home, such as the choice of building materials, finishes, appliances, and fixtures.
Here are a list of things to consider:
Renovate Instead of Building New
The first thing you could do to save money and the environment is to salvage what you can instead of building new. Too often we are wasting good usable materials and adding unnecessary amounts to the landfill.
Shop Local and Natural with no VOCs
A part of designing a sustainable home is to also consider where your building materials, furnishings, and fixtures come from. Though imported fancy and exotic materials are nice, it is always better to find something similar that can be supplied locally. Not only are you helping your local economy, you are saving the environment from thousands of miles of carbon pollution. It is also important to look at choosing natural materials that are rapidly renewable and finishes that contain no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) to avoid off-gassing that will lower the indoor air quality of your home. Though many manufacturers are beginning to create products with none to low VOCs, you should still consult suppliers in products such as paints, varnishes, carpets, laminates, vinyl, and glues.
Efficient Appliances, Lighting, and Fixtures
To help save on water and electrical bills, look for energy efficient appliances, LED lighting options, low flush toilets, and aerated fixtures.
Passive House Design
A passive house design is creating a super efficient building that helps prevent heat loss by using heavy insulation and heat exchange systems. This type of design depends very little on electrical systems and relies on the natural flow of hot and cold air within the house.
Other Sustainable Systems
Again, depending on your geographical location, some sustainable systems may function more effectively than others. With the right combination of these systems, it is possible for a home to become completely non-reliant of the power grid. Though initial costs may be much higher, homeowners will save much more in the long run.
- Solar Panels
- Wind Turbine
- Geo Thermal Heating and Cooling
- Using the natural temperatures of underground to regulate the temperatures of air and water in our home
- Rain Water Collection and Water Filtration/Condition Systems
- Water Harvesting for garden usage
- Grey water filtration for water recycling use
- Green Roofs
- Provides insulation and cooling benefits to the home
- Great for the environment
- Lowers storm water run-offs (lessens water run-off into sewage system)
- Home Energy Manager
- Central energy system to help homeowners manage efficient energy consumption
- Recycle and Compost
- Reduce waste and give back to the environment instead of the landfill
Here is a great diagram to help you visualize how these systems may work together:
Again, there are many things to consider when building and designing a sustainable home. These ideas and systems are just a start. Stay tuned for more innovative ideas on how to achieve sustainability through design!