As climate change becomes an increasingly pressing global issue, sustainability has become a popular topic of conversation. Fortunately, more and more people are becoming aware of how their actions significantly affect the environment and are making an effort to change their habits for the better.
This is especially apparent in the world of homebuilding. As more homeowners realise the importance of sustainable home building, the search for environmentally-friendly housing options has been on the rise. Where should you start? What are your options?
What is a Sustainable Home?
A sustainable home is a home that has been constructed using environmentally-friendly materials and resources. They are built to be energy efficient, primarily focusing on the impact of carbon emissions on the environment. These homes are designed to use less energy, water, and natural resources.
Types of Sustainable Homes
Sustainable homes come in different types, and they have various features that set them apart from each other. Each type has its strengths and weaknesses, and understanding these can help you make a more informed decision about what type of eco-friendly home is best for you. Some of the most popular types of sustainable houses are:
Passive homes are the most energy-efficient type of sustainable home. They rely on a strategic design and insulation to keep the interior temperature comfortable year-round without using any active heating or cooling systems.
Net Zero Homes
A net zero home is a sustainable home that produces as much energy as it consumes. To achieve net zero status, the home must have a renewable energy system in place that can generate at least as much energy as is used by the home and its inhabitants. This includes energy used by appliances, lighting, and electronics.
Zero Carbon Homes
A zero-carbon home produces no carbon emissions in the course of its daily activities. Unlike net zero homes, which produce as much energy as they consume over time and do not necessarily generate a surplus of energy on a day-to-day basis, zero-carbon homes are designed to produce more energy than they use. This way, they can put any excess energy back into the grid.
Tiny homes are sustainable because they use fewer resources to build and maintain. They require smaller plots of land, less construction materials, and are cheaper to heat or cool.
Take a look at ten reasons to choose a tiny house in the previous post.
How to Design and Build a Sustainable Home
Designing and building a sustainable home can be an overwhelming task. The process of designing, planning, and executing your dream home usually takes time, and a lot of patience. But with the right resources, you're well on your way to creating a home that's not only beautiful but good for the environment, too.
Set Your Goals
To begin, you should identify why you want to build a sustainable home and what your priorities are. Do you care more about the impact of carbon emissions on the environment? Are you interested in reducing your water consumption? Would it be helpful if your house generated its own energy? What's your source of inspiration? How much can you afford to spend on the project?
Your answers will help determine what type of sustainable home is right for you.
Choose the Right Materials
It's more than just the design that matters- the materials you choose for your sustainable home are just as important. Look for products made from sustainable or recycled materials. Wood is a popular choice because it's renewable, but other materials such as cob, recycled steel, and bamboo can also be used.
Read the previous article to learn more about Sustainable building materials.
Planning and Execution
Building a sustainable home takes time, effort, and money. But if you've done your research and are aware of the steps involved, then you're ready to begin.
To start, contact a local architect who specialises in sustainable home design. They will make sure that your vision is feasible and help guide you through every step of the process. You will also need to hire a contractor who is familiar with eco-friendly construction methods.
Get Help From an Expert
Building a sustainable home is an exciting project, but it can be complicated. If you'd like to get started on your eco-friendly dream house, working with an expert can make the process much easier.
How Sustainable Homes Increase Wellbeing
Living in a sustainable home has many benefits- not only for the environment but for your wellbeing, too. Here are some of the ways that eco-friendly homes can improve your life:
Fresh Air and Natural Light
Sustainable homes are designed to let in natural light and fresh air. This reduces energy consumption and provides a brighter, more comfortable living space that promotes good health and wellbeing.
Did you know that your stress levels may be affected by the environment you live in? Sustainably designed homes can help to reduce stress and create a more calming atmosphere.
Connect With Nature
Sustainable homes are often built with an emphasis on connecting with nature. For example, some eco-friendly houses feature large windows or skylights that let in lots of natural light and have a view of the outdoors from every room inside. In addition, many sustainable homes are surrounded by gardens and other natural features that promote relaxation and a sense of peace.
To learn from an expert in the industry - Oliver Heath, how to incorporate nature indoors, read this blog post.
Create A Healthy Home
A healthy home is one that's free from toxins and harmful chemicals. Sustainable homes are designed to be "healthy" in every sense of the word- they use nontoxic materials, lack volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and have plenty of fresh air and natural light.
Healthy Indoor Air Quality
Because sustainable homes are built with an emphasis on ventilation and natural light, it's easier for homeowners to maintain good indoor air quality. This can help reduce your risk of allergies or asthma symptoms from poor indoor air pollution levels.
Inspirational Sustainable Homes in the UK
There are many beautiful, sustainable homes across the United Kingdom. Here are some examples of eco-friendly houses that have been designed with wellbeing in mind:
BedZED, South London
BedZED, which stands for Beddington Zero Energy Development, is an eco-friendly development in Hackbridge, South London. It was completed in 2002 with 82 homes and one apartment block within the development.
BedZED was built with several sustainability initiatives to reduce its environmental impact, and increase the wellbeing of its residents. These include south-facing houses to maximise sunlight during winter, solar water heating panels, zero carbon emissions (other than those needed for transport), bright living spaces, and rooftop gardens.
East Village, London
East Village is a residential development that was initially built for athletes and officials during the 2012 London Olympics. The development features more than 100 sustainable homes, including apartments and townhouses and local shops, schools, and parks, all powered by renewable energy.
The village features four types of sustainability initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint; 'energy-positive' homes that generate more energy than they use, rainwater harvesting for flushing toilets and watering plants, green roofs to insulate buildings and reduce run-off, and district heating and cooling, which provides a sustainable way to heat and cool the entire village.
The Boat House, Cirencester
What was once an 18th-century barn has been transformed into a modern, eco-friendly home. The Boat House is located in the picturesque English countryside of Cirencester, featuring a 4-leg steel frame sitting above a lake bed. Its overall design and appearance give off a contemporary look, partnered with traditional materials like neutral oak for the perfect rural setting and scenery.
There's no doubt that sustainable homes are the future- not only for the environment but for our wellbeing, too. Simple changes like installing solar panels or building a green roof can make your home more eco-friendly and help you save money on energy costs in the long run.
The benefits of living sustainably are many, but there will always be challenges to overcome when trying something new. It's important not to get discouraged if things don't go as planned; keep learning and adapting until you create the sustainable home of your dreams.
Tell us about your sustainable home journey in the comment section below.