Important Sustainability Factors to Consider when Designing your New Home

published Jul 02, 2021
2 min read

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Sustainability is one of the most important factors when designing a new home in this day and age. Not only can this approach help to lower energy bills over time, but it is also an effective strategy to combat the ever-growing threat of climate change. In fact, recent studies have shown that average houses which have not upgraded to sustainable methods account for a staggering 21 per cent of all global carbon emissions. It is therefore clear to appreciate why so many owners are choosing to think outside of the box.

What are some of the ways in which sustainability can be taken into account when envisioning and constructing the home of your dreams? Let us consider some practices to consider at an early stage.

“Passive” Energy-Efficient Designs

Passive home designs are intended to utilise natural methods in order to heat and cool the environment. In other words, this method will rely more upon the characteristics of the structure in question as opposed to cutting-edge technological advancements. Here are some examples of how passive designs can be employed to reduce the carbon footprint of a property:

  1. The directional orientation of the home.
  2. Insulation and ventilation.
  3. Double- and triple-glazed windows.
  4. Leveraging the presence of natural interior and exterior shade.

The main takeaway point is that these and other variables will help to reduce otherwise substantial energy costs over time; directly benefitting the environment.

The Use of Eco-Friendly Materials

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Another key takeaway point involves avoiding certain substances which are harmful to the environment. For example, a growing number of homes are now using recycled materials during the construction process. Not only will this help to reduce the carbon footprint of a property, but they are often much less expensive when compared to traditional approaches.

Concrete, metal, and glass can all be reclaimed and recycled. A growing number of companies are now offering engineered wood flooring, as this type of floor will require far less wood than standard planks. There are even some forms of insulation that employ natural hemp fibres; providing homes with a sustainable level of warmth without impacting the environment.

LED Lighting and Climate Control Solutions

Technology has come a long way in recent years, and this is particularly the case when referring to domestic lighting solutions. Incandescent and fluorescent fixtures are now being replaced with “smarter” solutions such as LED lighting. Not only does this form of light consume much less electricity, but it generates almost no heat. Therefore, the bulbs themselves can last for tens of thousands of hours before needing to be replaced.

In the same respect, sustainable homes are often defined by the novel ways in which they account for heating and cooling needs. Fossil fuels are being phased out in favour of other methods such as ground-source heat pumps, more efficient cavity wall insulation, and underfloor (radiant) heating. These can sometimes be used in synergy with alternative forms of energy such as hydroelectricity and solar power; further reducing the impact that a home will have upon its immediate environment.

Wastewater Treatment Techniques

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Water is one of the most valuable commodities and unfortunately, many traditional homes consume vast amounts. When designing a new property, it is always prudent to consider how water can be conserved. One popular option is to install an on-site wastewater treatment system. There are two main options to appreciate:

  • Grey water systems
  • Black water systems

Grey water reclamation involves treating all types of domestic water excluding sewage. Black water systems deal with water that contains a much higher organic load (sewage is the most common example). Once treated, both types of water can be used for domestic purposes such as flushing toilets and irrigating gardens. This is a much more sustainable approach when compared to using mains water for the same tasks.

Purchasing Energy-Efficient Appliances

Older appliances are notorious for consuming vast amounts of electricity. Not only will these directly contribute to rising energy costs, but they negatively impact the environment. Thankfully, modern variants offer a much more sustainable edge. This is why it is important to select the most appropriate models based on their energy ratings. Units that require less electricity to operate are also known for their longevity; helping to reduce future expenditures.

Sustainable homes are indeed the wave of the future. Embracing this type of environmentally friendly approach will help to reduce the global consumption of fossil fuels and it is arguably one of the best ways to counteract the debilitating effects of climate change. So, it, therefore, stands to reason that this strategy should be embraced at an early stage if you hope to make the most out of the options at your disposal.

Author bio: This article was written by Martin O’Callaghan of Wood Flooring Ireland who are passionate about creating sustainable and bespoke wood flooring for homes and businesses.