The Eco-Sustainable House
Sustainability is a term that is heard often these days, especially from the mouths of architects, though an eco-friendly house needs to go much further than simply being made from sustainable materials. The true Eco-sustainable house also needs to be green across its entire structure and the way it is utilised, to be as energy-efficient as possible, as well as friendly to its surroundings. Being a true eco-house means having a “net zero“ carbon footprint, in that it produces all of its required power, in a way that provides zero greenhouse gas emissions. So does this then mean that you need to start from scratch in building an environmentally sustainable homes, or is it possible in a refurbishment?
Focus on What Is Genuinely Achievable
While the ultimate goal is to reach that magical net zero, the truth is very few homes actually are capable of achieving this, though of course, any improvement made is desirable. A renovation of an old property can bring many improvements, which can increase energy efficiency, with any reduction being better than none. The Passive House Institute was formed in Germany in 1996 and has now assumed a leading position in research and development of building concepts and construction components that lead to massive energy efficiencies. A passive house is built with almost airtight, heavily insulated walls, windows angled to allow sunlight in for what is termed “passive solar,” with other energy saving ideas, which can reduce the energy consumption very significantly.
Renovating and Decorating
It is much easier today to be eco-friendly when renovating and decorating your house than ever before. “Natural” paints, completely chemical and VOC free are available and work just as well as traditional paints, if applied correctly, by one of the dependable house painters from the Gold Coast or from your local area. Recycling is extremely efficient these days, so finding good second-hand building materials is easier and cheaper than ever, while saving on manufacturing costs and energy usage. The hanging of tapestries on the interior walls not only provides something aesthetically pleasing, it can also add a few degrees of additional insulation, which may be the difference between needing to turn the heating on or not.
Green Energy Production
No discussion on an eco-house would be complete without thinking about the energy needed to heat, cool, or light the house. Naturally, solar power is the first thing that will come to most people’s minds, as it is simple to install, requires very little maintenance and pays for itself fairly quickly. Obviously though, solar only works effectively on warm sunny days, and it is during generally the dark overcast days when it isn’t operating very efficiently, that we are most likely to be needing more power. Wind energy is seeing more widespread use, though again, it does have to be windy to work, so on some occasions, it is not going to be functioning. So really, unless you are fortunate enough to be sat on top of a convenient geo-thermal vent, most of us are going to remain reliant on the power company for some time to come. However, by thinking green at every turn, it is possible to bring ourselves significantly closer to the net zero dream, than we are right now.