5 tips for building an environmentally friendly home

With a growing emphasis on responsible practices that have a more positive, and less harmful impact on the environment, the first place to start going green is in your own backyard. Or more precisely, when you have purchased your land and are ready to build your home. One of the best ways to conserve the environment is by going green even prior to the stage where you consider solar panels for your home and actually really focusing on how you will build your home, and what impact it will have now, and in the future.

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Photo: pixor

So how can you build a green home and set yourself up for green living?
Architecture
The design and layout of your home can have a big impact on what materials you can use to build it, where you get energy from and how you retain it, and what use you can make of nature and natural resources, so you don’t need to use man-made, harmful ones.

There are now architects dedicated to creating ‘green’ plans for buildings. Not only do they make use of recycled products and building materials, they use angle and position to catch and retain sun, design to capture water and feed it into tanks, and open planning to make the most of natural light sources so you don’t continuously rely on electricity. There are even homes in the USA that are completely made from recycled materials such as old tyres and bottles — they look quirky and demand attention, but are very low on environmental impact.

Materials
More and more homes are making use of less environmentally harmful building materials. As dedication to this area increases, so too does the range of materials available. Some options include:
-mud brick
– straw bales
-rammed earth
-salvaged building materials from demolished buildings

While there is a variety of materials to consider, remember to do thorough research into all of them, and consider the environment you are building in. For example, if you live in an area of high fire damage, straw bale might not be for you, similarly, if your locality is very cold, you may need to consider something with a high insulation capacity.

Water
Conserving water is a big environmental positive, especially in Australia, where we continuously move in and out of periods of severe drought in certain areas. The first step you can take to going green where water is concerned, is installing a tank. The bigger the tank, the more of your water needs it can cater for. If you install a large tank, you may be able to cover all of your drinking, personal hygiene and other household needs. To conserve the water, consider implementing infrastructure to recycle shower, washing or drinking water for use in the garden.

Energy
Another area where we are generally high consumers, and low thinkers, is energy. For many of us, conserving energy just means installing green light bulbs — but we can do so much more. Options such as solar panels or energy generated by wind turbines can not only save energy, but reduce your reliance on the general power grid. Smart but simple actions such as installing heavy curtains to insulate in winter, can also conserve energy by enabling you to retain more heat instead of losing it through cold windows.

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