The building industry is a big and beautiful beast, but it has a significant impact on the environment. The materials, land and energy used in new builds and home renovations have a direct impact on greenhouse gas emissions. At AAG Constructions, we are passionate about preserving the environment for future generations and are mindful of the impact our work has on our fragile environment. It is not a reason to avoid a renovation or build, but it is a reason to make sure that you and your construction team (builder/architect/engineer) are on the lookout for the most sustainable materials and techniques to reduce the impact on the environment and build an environmentally friendly home. Here are some of our top tips for making your build a little greener:
- Use recycled materials. Recycled materials can not only reduce waste but they can also save you money and give you a unique finish. Recycled items might include recycled timber or tin, really anything that has been made from recycled items eg. carpet made from recycled plastic bottles (yes, really!)
- Purchase good quality doors and windows. If a door or window does not seal properly, you can lose a considerable amount of air through the gap, which means that any heating or cooling systems will need to run on overdrive to keep the space your desired temperature. This will not only cost you financially, but can also cost the environment. Having good insulation can also assist with minimising heat loss in your home and is worth the investment.
- Choose environmentally friendly appliances. These can include fixtures on taps and showers to reduce water pressure, as well as washing machines and dishwashers which have a high energy and water rating (keep an eye out for products with more than a 3 star rating)
- Dual flush toilets! Yes, this actually does make a difference. Flushing liquid waste only requires 50% of water, compared to flushing solid waste.
- Consider your lighting. Don’t be afraid to think creatively about how you will be able to use natural light in the best way possible. This is where we would recommend consulting an architect (see our blog on why you should use an architect) . Consider things like aspect facing and how you might be able to come up with creative design solutions such as sky lights which can not only reduce your need to use lights during the day (and heaters in winter) but can also add a wow-factor to your home. Using energy efficient bulbs or LED lighting tends to be more environmentally friendly and can also save you money on your electricity bill.
- Stay local! Support your local community by sourcing local products and bypassing large manufacturers. This can include locally sourced furniture and homewares too.
- Collect rainwater. Consider a water tank which can be installed under ground so that it does not take up any space or create an eyesore on your property. Recycled water can be used for gardening, toilet flushing and even the laundry
- Consider ceiling fans. Ceiling fans can be a great alternative to air conditioning on those not-too-hot days, and can save you money too. Ceiling fans can also be used as a design feature in a room.
- Go Solar! Check out our blog on 8 reasons to go solar here. You can also explore options of keeping your roof cool so as to reduce the heat absorbed in to your living spaces. This could include things such as reflective roof paint or tiles which will result in a cooler building while you will save your pennies on the cost of cooling the building.
- Plant trees around your home! Give a little bit back to the environment and plant some trees around your home which can create shade around your house and garden while also adding some privacy to your home. While we can appreciate not everyone will want a garden, including space in your new property for a veggie patch can encourage kids to have more of an appreciation for where food comes from, and the process of growing and harvesting. Let’s teach the next generation about sustainability and how to care for the environment!
We hope that our top 10 tips to build an environmentally friendly home might help you to think about how you can ensure your new home has a smaller eco-footprint; but don’t underestimate the impact of a good design plan. Find an architect and builder who are willing to explore more sustainable products and designs and share your interest in environmentally sustainable building.