Photo source: architektur
As more and more people get accustomed to the idea that fossil fuels are finite and that it’s every person’s responsibility to ensure the transition towards a healthier and more environmentally conscious lifestyle, sustainable homes are rapidly gaining foothold in the contemporary housing marketplace. It is also worth mentioning that buildings consume a substantial amount of resources through their inhabitants. Some can even lead to environmental degradation due to the poorly chosen raw materials. All this means that it’s time to take a better look at what options you have in order to reduce your carbon footprint, while still preserving a high degree of comfort. Whether it’s building a house from the ground up, or retrofitting an existing one to optimize its sustainability, there are a few guiding principles that are generally valid and that any budding homeowner should know in their pursuit of a greener lifestyle:
Optimize site potential
Get the most out of your location by making sure unnecessary energy expenditure is kept to a minimum. This can mean rehabilitating existing buildings and bringing them up-to-date with all the latest energy-efficient amenities. Or, you may simply opt for a fresh plot of land where you can build your dream house from the ground up. Keep in mind, however, that proper site selection is a must when it comes to the overall sustainability of your future home. Favorable placement can ensure optimum solar and wind exposure, as well as proximity to public transportation and a marked decrease in habitat disturbance. Remember: the goal is to build your home in a place where you’ll disrupt the natural flow of things as little as possible. In cases such as these, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for projects that have already begun blazing a similar trail.
Be efficient when it comes to energy and water use
After choosing the ideal building spot, you should next focus on ensuring that your future home will not run the risk of unnecessary energy consumption. The goal should ultimately be to take steps towards having a net-zero energy building, the one that’s able to become completely self-sufficient by fulfilling its own energy needs. One way to do this is by opting for a climate-responsive home design that focuses on reducing heating, cooling and lighting loads. Another is by limiting the consumption of water in the household. This is usually done via seamless integration of water saving technology such as low flow toilets or discreet water saving faucets.
Use environmentally friendly building materials
Your next area of focus should be geared towards the composition of your future home. Opting for greener materials will not only make it more sustainable, but may also have a positive impact on your health and well-being. Materials such as asbestos, for example, were used in construction for a very long time before they were linked to life-threatening health problems. That’s why it’s important to always go with natural materials that have a proven track record of non-toxicity, preferably ones which can later be salvaged and recycled so that future generations can build their homes from the remnants of ours.
Ensure proper maintenance
Every building, no matter how well designed and properly built, will start showing some wear-and-tear as the years go by. In order to minimize the need for future repairs and expensive renovation procedures which may also have a negative impact on the environment, it is advisable to always follow proper maintenance practices. These may include installing automated monitors to check for any fluctuations in water and air quality, as well as performing periodic audits to see if the systems set in place are still living up to their standards of efficiency.
These are just some of the things you can do in order to make your house more energy-efficient. Always be mindful of your impact on the environment and, before you know it, you’ll be well on your way towards making your sustainable home dream become reality.
Bob Gorman is a freelance writer and a passionate blogger. He likes writing articles that cover home improvement, home remodeling and home building topics. He has written numerous articles and contributed to several other blogs. When he is not writing, he spends his time with his four year old son and his wife Lana.