Updated: 20-Nov-2018

If you’re getting ready to build a green home consider using eco-friendly construction methods and materials. Don’t just leave it to the routine process that many builders follow without thinking.

The structure of your home is likely to be your biggest footprint on the planet. Take this opportunity to make substantial savings both for yourself and for the environment. This is especially true for the long term. All it takes is a little more thought and research before you get under way. Of course there may be options at a later date for retro-fitting but it is simpler if you get it right first time.

5 key elements of a green home

    1. Green Materials

      Green materials are materials with a low impact on the environment. They may be recycled, recyclable, or made from renewable resources.
      No doubt you are aware of the disastrous effects of plastics on the environment. Did you also know that many materials in the construction industry still have high amounts of toxic chemicals with devastating effects? Choose options such as low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) paint. Ask your builder to avoid problem ingredients such as formaldehyde.

      Construction-work-carpenter

      Perhaps the biggest impact will be on the way you feel about your home – take a look here at how good it feels to live with a natural wood floor. And the floor is just one example.

    2. Energy efficiency

      A green building is one that has a low energy consumption over its lifetime. You can take measures such as installing devices that shut off electricity to unused appliances and motion sensors to limit the amount of water used for hand-washing. Always opt for low-energy appliances, which are AAA-rated in the UK.

      Motion-Activated Hands-Free Bathroom Tap
      available at Amazon

    3. Renewable Energy

      Renewable energy such as solar energy or a ground source heat pump reduces the home’s carbon footprint. Ther initial outlay for systems such as solar panels may seem large. However over a lifetime the running costs promise considerable savings. You also experience the good feeling of using a resource as free as the sun!

    4. Shack-with-solar-panels

      Make a new tradition

    5. Renewable water sources

      Collect grey water in tanks for the garden and other areas where pristine water quality isn’t essential. Systems to collect rainwater are fairly simple. The water is collected as it runs off the roof. It’s more of a challenge to harness grey water. This water has already passed through the water system in your home, such as water used by appliances. Be sure to avoid water from the kitchen sink as this is likely to contain chemicals harmful to plants (unless you are two steps ahead here too and only use bio-degradable cleaning products).

      A short video to explain how a greywater system works

    6. Good insulation

      Insulation will reduce heating costs, or cooling if you need to use air conditioning in your climate. Aim to use Structural Insulated Panels on a new build. These panels are efficient and lightweight. Also consider natural materials such as straw… Straw? Straw may be too radical a step for your builder, but just the mention of the word may make the other measures sound less radical 🙂

    7. Straw bales

You may not be able to incorporate all these methods into your new home. However including just one can make a big difference in the long term to both the environment and your pocket.

At the end of your project you will probably find that you have some materials left over. It may make economic sense to try selling these but if you are left with goods to dispose of then please consider sharing them on platforms such as Freecycle.