When most people think of sustainable housing, they think about the innovative new builds they see in Architectural Digest or a contemporary edifice with vines and runners adorning it. But the most sustainable option isn’t always building from scratch – sometimes, the greenest thing to do is to work with what’s already there.
Sustainable housing is one that makes efficient use of resources and energy with minimal impacts on the environment. The overriding principle in sustainable housing is ensuring it promotes a better quality of life and involves less waste, better reliability, lower life-cycle environmental impacts, less maintenance, and more reuse. Sustainable housing has wider environmental, social and wellbeing benefits which do not neatly fit into traditional economic considerations.
It’s no secret that we keep taking from the planet in more proportions than it has to offer, and being “woke” in this regard wouldn’t cut it. We have to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty, literally. Some of the most sustainable housing projects involve retrofitting older homes with modern sustainable additions, or re-purposing old agricultural or industrial buildings for use as domestic homes. This not only requires fewer manufacturing materials, but also makes great use of materials that might otherwise have ended up in landfill.
It’s also worth considering the land use involved in building new homes. Making better use of brownfield sites and disused buildings can help to preserve natural environments. Sustainable renovation might not be for everyone, but before embarking on an ambitious eco build, it could be something to consider.
Making our homes sustainable is a simple task and does not need to cause a lot of anxiety during or after construction. If a house is already constructed, there are many improvements that are needed to make it more sustainable. Some of them are immediate and are cheap, while others take longer and are more costly. For new homes, there are so many ways it can be made sustainable.
Sustainable housing is considerably more beneficial than the traditional approach to housing in diverse ways, and this can be perceived in terms of cost, comfort, environmental protection and investment value.
To prove that it’s actually feasible and is something we could all embrace and implement, let’s take a look at a couple of ways we could apply building a more sustainable project for ourselves and the community;
Minimizing resource wastage
During construction, recycling of wastes can be done to reduce the accumulation of wastes as much as possible. For instance, materials can be sourced by demolished products that have been recycled.
Make use of the sun
Orientate a new home for maximum sunlight. This involves passive solar heating designs and making use of daytime lighting fully. By the use of passive solar, the windows can let in energy, and the heat absorbed reduces the need for warming the house during cold periods such as winter. Seeking advice from the architect for more ideas is necessary.
Selection of local or native plant life for landscaping and interior design is an essential element
This will make the house look beautiful and attractive, as well as creating a calm environment for sustainability. Plants also act as natural air purifiers.
Use of drought-tolerant plants for landscaping the house environment
Drought tolerant plants require less water and can survive during drought, thus making them beautiful throughout the year. They also have aesthetic value so you should be getting some nods from your gazing neighbors with this approach.
Use of eco paints for the walls during construction will make the house more sustainable
The use of paints that are plant or water-based other than using the traditional ones which are full of volatile organic compounds is part of building a sustainable house. The chemical paints are bad for the occupant’s health and lead to air pollution.
Talk to sustainability experts
Sustainability is an area of fast innovation in home building, home systems, appliances and lighting. Sustainability experts can perform an energy audit to give you advice on easy fixes, the latest technology and other efficiency improvements first. So don’t be shy to ring them up.
In conclusion, people need homes. But with pressure on natural resources and the uncertainty of climate change, it is important that homes are built in ways that provide benefits for both residents and the environment—which is why we must turn our compasses to steer towards the direction of sustainable housing and environmental protection. Or wouldn’t you agree?