What is Sustainability?
Before we delve into the paths you can choose to make your own home sustainable today, it is good to know exactly what we mean by sustainability and what we aim to accomplish by saying we are living sustainably.
When described very simply, sustainability meets our demands without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This applies to the natural resources we share with the world and the social and economic resources. Sustainability is not just about the environment but also about social equality as well as economic development, hence when we talk about sustainability we must include all the different factors and aspects associated with it. Living sustainably thus means incorporating principles from all these different fields into your lifestyle. A sustainable lifestyle attempts to reduce the resources one uses for living. There are other names associated with this, for example, net-zero living’ or ‘earth harmony living’ but all these practices attempt to achieve the same- living using fewer assets.
Sustainability in Architecture and Home
A sustainable building has the least impact on the environment. This is important not only because the construction section is responsible for 28 percent of global emissions, but also because eco-friendly homes are more comfortable in the long run, in terms of money as well as the health of the users. This includes using materials and resources responsibly, energy efficiency, and avoiding adding toxins to your environment.
And contrary to popular beliefs it is very easy to achieve such a lifestyle without much input from the user’s side. And, now that we know what sustainability truly entails, let’s talk about how you can make your own home sustainable, easily, quickly, and effectively.
Many factors can make a home sustainable before even it is built. Here are some of them listed and explained below. This list by no means is exhaustive, and there are numerous additional things one can look into while in the planning and construction phase. Let us look at some general ones.
You must check out 10 Clever Tips to Design a Sustainable and Affordable Home
1. Location- Where Matters!
Location is the first step when it comes to building homes. Location affects transportation both during construction and after the user starts living. The infrastructure and utilities close to your home may also help reduce the impact you create on the environment.
2. Size- It’s not about the Square Footage!
The size of your house depends on your need, but it is obvious that smaller homes are more efficient. Not only do they reduce energy consumption and material needs, but they are also easier to manage.
3. Materials- The Building Blocks
Local materials used in vernacular architecture are the best choice for the construction palette. They not only are easily and locally sourceable but at the same time, years of knowledge base renders the technology and techniques such that they favor the comfort of the user according to the climate conditions of the location itself. One can also look at recycled or reused materials for part of the whole construction. Some of the commonly recycled materials are:
- Masonry (bricks, stones, and pavers)
- Roofing Shingles
- Soil (for landscaping)
To know more about materials and sustainability, read Top 10 Natural Building Materials For Sustainable Architecture.
More Ways to Make your Home Sustainable
What if your home is already constructed? If that is the case, worry not, because here is a list of things you can do to make your existing home more eco-friendly.
4. Building Envelope- What Makes a Home
Even if your walls are constructed, there are construction materials that you can swap, with their more eco-friendly alternatives. Window glass and frames are some of the most important construction materials. They play an important role in deciding the amount of heat and light that enters the living space. An appropriate choice of glass can make the space much more comfortable. Other solutions may include externally insulting the wall. There are many physical and chemical options you can choose from to achieve this. Especially in extreme hot and cold climates, good wall insulation can be a game-changer.
Read Expert Hacks To Maximize Natural Light From Windows to know about the ways to welcome natural light and air into your spaces.
5. Utilising the Sun- Passive Techniques and Active Participation
You may not be able to change how the spaces are constructed in your home, but you can change how they are used. Sun plates a very important role in determining the environmental conditions in your house. Planning activities away from direct solar radiation in summers and opposite in the winters is an easy way a user can interact with space and maintain their comfort without any additional resources.
Even more so, the appliances like solar heaters and panels can be strategically placed to capture the maximum benefit of solar radiation.
6. Energy Efficient Appliances- Choosing the Right Appliances
Energy-efficient appliances are becoming must-haves in modern homes. These include appliances of a wide range of variety. One can go for the more eco-friendly LEDs and star-rated electrical appliances like washing machines, refrigerators, air conditioning systems, etc.
Going one step further, you can employ motion sensors with the appliances. This will help decrease the amount of time the appliance is used, with additional comfort for the user.
7. Water- Recycle, Reuse and Reduce!
Water is one of the most important resources. And though it is readily available, there has been a decline in pure and clean water over the years. Hence it becomes very important to conserve it.
Thinking about water is an absolute necessity when it comes to eco-friendly homes. And there are numerous ways one can achieve this. Rainwater harvesting is one of the most popular systems one can incorporate into their homes to save and store natural rainwater. This water can be either used or stored or it can be used to replenish the water table of the locality by using it to recharge the natural aquifers.
But if you cannot or don’t want to commit to such an elaborate system, some efficient appliances and fixtures can greatly reduce the water consumption at your homes. The common taps, showerheads, and even the water closet can be swapped with more eco-friendly and efficient versions of appliances and fixtures which aren’t even expensive.
8. Renewable Energy Sources- Different Kinds of Systems you can Use!
Lastly, you can engage in generating your electricity and power your own home completely or partially. The appliances and technologies that might be suitable for this vary from location to location. Yet in the subtropical country of India, solar panels are the most popular and efficient option available.
Other options include solar water heaters and small wind capturing technologies that you can use to heat water and generate electricity respectively. You can use a combination of these technologies to cut that electricity bill.
If you care about the future of the planet and its resources, an eco-friendly lifestyle is a small step you can take towards achieving your goal. Contrary to the belief this is easier to achieve.
You can reduce the impact you create on our planet by adding these small changes to your home. Not only these technologies make your home greatly efficient, but it also makes the environment more comfortable with the additional benefit of saving money and energy.
What do you think about this article? We would love to read your thoughts and experiences regarding the ways to make your home more eco-friendly. Please share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below!
Lastly, take a read to the 10 Unique Building Materials That are Perfect for Modern Homes
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