How to Build an Eco-Friendly House – Key Things to Consider
26 September 2018
Did you know that buildings – including the homes we live in – account for about 40% of global energy consumption? That’s over a third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
There are numerous considerations to make when planning the build of an eco-friendly house. And with new technologies and techniques constantly emerging, keeping up to speed on green building practices can be a challenge.
This week is World Green Building Week – an annual event which empowers people across the world to create greener buildings. This year, the focus is on homes and motivating us all to improve the eco-friendliness of our homes.
The Green Building Council Australia (GBCA) is hosting a series of events across the country to promote the initiative, but essentially, making a greener world starts at home.
You may have picked up some ideas by touring some of Australia’s most environmentally progressive homes on display at Sustainable House Day. But if you missed out, fear not! We’ve put together a list of key factors to consider when building an eco-friendly house.
Remember Insulation is Key
Poor insulation will cause heating and cooling issues within the home and could result in you using more energy trying to compensate for the loss of heat / coolness.
Quality insulation is key to efficient temperature control as it reduces the exchange of heat, keeping houses warmer in the Winter and cooler in the Summer.
Plant-based polyurethane rigid foam, sheep’s wool and straw bales are great insulating materials to use as they are eco-friendly. Made from kelp, hemp and bamboo, plant-based polyurethane rigid foam also protects against mould and pests.
Install Quality Windows & Doors
Did you know that up to 50% of a home’s heat is lost via the windows and doors? Well-sealed, quality windows and doors will help to prevent the exchange of heat as air flows in and out of the house. This again helps to maintain the temperature within your home.
Invest in Double-Glazing
Double-glazing is another great way to insulate your home, reducing the amount of warm / cool air escaping from the house through the windows by up to 30%. Double-glazing also offers the added bonus of minimising noise.
Solar window films also offer insulation benefits, reducing up to 78% of the sun’s heat from penetrating your home. They can also block up to 99% of UV rays.
Install Energy-Efficient Heating & Cooling Systems
On average, 40% of our energy usage at home is for heating and / or cooling. So, installing an energy-efficient heating / cooling system can have a huge impact on your greenhouse gas emissions and really boost your green credentials. There is a huge range of systems on the market, so do your research to identify the best option for your needs.
The way in which you operate and maintain your system will also create a big impact, so be sure to invest in regular servicing and be sensible with your usage.
Consider Solar Power
Consider investing in solar power. While the installation costs can be high, in the long-run you can make huge savings on both energy consumption and money with solar power. Location is a key determining factor however, as you need to be in a sunny climate to get the most out of this system.
Use Eco-Friendly & Recycled Materials
The use of ‘green’ and recycled materials are vital to creating an eco-friendly house.
Steel production requires a huge amount of energy, thus its’ environmental impact is vast. Reducing the energy costs required for making the steel by 75%, recycled steel has therefore become a highly popular green building material.
Other eco-friendly building materials include recycled wood, bamboo, cork, precast concrete and recycled glass.
Be Smart with Lighting
When it comes to lighting, simple changes can generate huge energy and monetary savings over time.
Opt for energy-efficient lightbulbs, such as halogen incandescents, light emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). These options can last up to 25 times longer and typically use between 25% and 80% less energy than traditional incandescents.
Small changes within the home each day can save thousands of litres of water over the year. Opt for showers over baths and by switching to a water-efficient showerhead you can halve your shower water usage – as well as reducing water heating costs.
And fix any leaking taps. A single dripping tap can waste up to 10,000 litres of water per year.
Also, limit your use of the dishwasher and tumble dryer. You can reduce the number of cycles you run each week simply by ensuring they are full to capacity – why run a half-empty dishwasher 7 times per week when you could run a full dishwasher 3 – 4 times per week? This will also help with your energy savings.
And did you know that toilet flushes account for 23% of the total amount of water consumed in the average home? Using roughly 25% less water than a conventional toilet, a dual-flush toilet is not only kind to the environment, but also to your wallet! And according to the building regulations in Australia, it is a requirement that all new builds are fitted with dual-flush toilets.
Smart Design & Spatial Planning
If you’re building or extending your existing property, you must consider the design and layout of your home. How much space do you really need? Generally, smaller homes not only cost less to build, but they are more environmentally friendly and cheaper to run.
With careful planning and an eye for design, you can maximise your use of space and create the illusion of a larger and more spacious home.
Be Responsible with your Waste
Remember to make environmentally-conscious decisions when it comes to managing your waste.
New homes and extensions create a lot of construction waste, so you will likely need to hire a skip bin. Select a provider with strong green credentials, like Instant Waste Management. As an environmentally-friendly rubbish removal company, we are dedicated to recycling as much waste material as possible.
And remember the 3 Rs – Reduce, Recycle and Repurpose where you can!
So there you have it; our top 10 hacks for building an eco-friendly house.
If you’d like to hire a skip or find out more about our state-of-the-art material recovery facility, contact our friendly team today.