Building a green home translates your commitment to the environment into intuitive, daily practice for the long haul. Though it’s not an option for everyone, green home living is the way of the future. Want a home that lets you thrive, cut energy costs, and minimise your environmental impact for many years to come? If you do, it’s best to plan well and build a genuinely eco-friendly home.
The need for green home design
Green home construction is a new venture for most aspiring homeowners. Besides listening to experts, you need to state and manage your expectations from this endeavour. Moreover, you need to know what not to do when building a sustainable home.
1. Not thinking far enough ahead
Buying an existing house might seem appealing, but older homes running on fossil fuels can be hard to modify. Because there’s always some new technology for your green home that you’ll want to adopt every few years, it’s good to keep your house compatible to any sustainable upgrades.
When building your eco-friendly home, consider your own future needs. If you hope to live in this house until your old age, prioritise universal, elderly-friendly home design. As you age, your needs at home will likely change. For example, things like stairs become harder to manage, as does maintaining outdoor facilities like pools and flowerbeds.
2. Making it too big
Bigger is not always better, especially when it comes to your home. The larger the house, the more energy it uses, the more materials it takes to build, and the greater its carbon footprint. You do need enough room to live, however.
If you have kids, or hope for grandchildren to visit, take that into account when building your sustainable home. You probably don’t need an entire wing for yourself, but determine the surface area where your comfort level meets your desired energy savings. Make sure there’s room for you, your kids, your grandkids, and your pets to at least turn around.
3. Skimping on insulation
Insulation isn’t exactly the most exciting aspect of sustainable home construction, but it is incredibly important. Skimping on insulating your basement or attic is a costly mistake. Heating and cooling comprise about 48 percent of a home’s energy costs, making it the largest expense most homes have.
While you’re at it, insulate the pipes. Hot and cold water pipes run through the walls and are the closest to exterior temperatures out of all the other features in your home. Keep your water pipes warm and your water heater won’t have to work as hard.
4. Skipping water collection or recycling systems
Wells and city water are exactly what you need for things like drinking, washing your face and hands, brushing your teeth, showering and bathing, cooking, cleaning, and doing the laundry.
If you’re growing a garden, however, you can care for it using rainwater instead of freshwater. There are a lot of ways to collect rainwater, and most of them are easy and inexpensive. One simple way, for instance, is to simply move the end of your gutters into rainwater barrels. Rainwater harvesting helps conserve water and reduces erosion and runoff.
You can also conserve freshwater using a greywater collection and treatment system, for toilet flushing and even watering the garden.
5. Miscalculating the location
Where you build is just as important as how you build. If you want to use solar energy, you need to build your home where you’ll get the most sun. For example, if it’s a solar log cabin you want to build, optimal positioning maximises the sun’s heat in winter.
Moreover, to protect local wildlife, make sure to build your home near or in town. Building on a new, pristine site usually disturbs the native ecosystem.
6. Using asphalt
A paved driveway is nice, but it’s not necessary. If you leave more area open, the environment will thank you. Less asphalt means the ground can absorb rainwater better, and it helps bring water back to the underground table. If you don’t like the feel or look of an unpaved surface, absorbent concrete can suck up water for you. It’s not a perfect solution, but it does prevent runoff and can help reduce flood risk.
7. Building everything with all-new materials
Homes built with brand new materials are beautiful, but they come with a hefty carbon footprint. Whenever recycled and reclaimed options for building materials are available, they’re usually the better choice.
Everything from roofing to hardwood floors can be made from recycled or reclaimed building materials. You might also find there’s a favourable price difference!
8. Planting exclusively for looks
If you want to help the local fauna, try using native plants in your garden. Native species are well adapted to the temperatures and rainfall in the area, making them easier to manage. The animals, everything from the deer to the bees, are familiar with the natives and can use them. The more plants you have over grass in your yard, the more places for animals to hide and make homes.
Building a green home isn’t the easiest thing to do, but it’s certainly worth it in the long run. Drafting a comprehensive plan and defining the various details for your eco-friendly home helps demystify the process. In return, you save money, reduce your carbon footprint, and experience comfort, security, and satisfaction with a green home.
Title image from Decoist