If you’re thinking about doing your bit for the environment and building a green home, you could be part of a revolution.
Green builds are one of the newest and most valuable trends in construction at the moment. For every single new house built, there’s an associated impact on the environment, though green builds can minimize, and in some cases even neutralize this impact.
But where do you even start when planning an eco house?
There are a lot of options available – pre-fab eco homes, specialist eco-designs and more alternative solutions – but if you’re going it alone, there are a few really important points to think about first.
1. Location, location, location
When choosing the plot your new home is going to stand on, consider what is, or was there. The general rule is: don’t build in an environmentally sensitive area – no construction on wetlands, in forests, floodplains or on any patch of land that will significantly alter the landscape if you built there.
Finding brownfield land – land that has already been built upon – is the best bet for eco buildings. You can knock down any buildings that stand on the site already; but make sure the land is not contaminated, as it will make it impossible to landscape with all those plants that will help make your building carbon neutral.
2. Energy efficiency
Make sure you’re using as many energy conserving measures as you can within your budget.
Think about having your home completely powered by solar panels – although initially expensive to install, you can save far more than the installation cost, and over a ton of carbon emissions per year!
Comprehensive insulation can ensure that you don’t lose so much heat, making your house more energy efficient. There are a lot of effective recycled insulation solutions, for example, from paper or plastic bottles.
Make sure the windows you install are double or triple glazed, and think about their positioning – maximizing windows on the south side of your building means you’ll get a lot of solar warmth, even on cloudy days.
Installing a green roof can also massively help with insulating, and help offset that carbon footprint.
Make sure when you’re furnishing to buy energy efficient appliances, and also think about having recycled or upcycled furniture.
3. What materials to use?
There’s a huge selection when choosing green build materials, and it seems a new one is developed every minute. Think about using recycled materials – you could even use materials from the site such as gravel and rock, or from the building that was there before.
When you decorate, make sure you use eco paint, which is made from natural products and has minimal effect on the environment. Think about where you will be spending most of your time, if in the office, plants can help to diffuse hard edges and can also make for a more oxygen rich environment.
4. Water usage
Think about installing low-flow toilets, sinks and showers, and also consider reusing your grey water (not as horrible as it sounds, I promise).
There are several options for this – to have grey water from your bath, shower and sinks diverted to a water butt so it can be used for watering plants, or you can have it diverted to a tank, so it can be used to flush the toilets as well.
These four points should be at the front of your mind when designing your home. At every step of your build, just stop for a moment and think, am I doing my bit for the environment? And you should have a great, green home!
‘Jasmine is a blogger with a passion for anything green. She recommends Ambius as they are experts on the benefits of interior landscaping and indoor office plants on both body and mind. Photo by Christopher Sessums