In a time where dwindling resources are expensive, overall cost of living is high and land area is scarce, it pays to live sustainably. Imagine a world where we no longer have to rely on the national grid for electricity, can generate most of our water supply and pollution levels are low. This is what sustainable living strives to achieve, one home at a time.
The average homeowner is having a tougher time paying bills and with good reason. Utility costs have hit an all-time high and estimates show that the cost is pegged to rise with growing population and growing demand. Statistics show that households use over 30 percent of electricity just on HVAC requirements. A huge percentage just to stay cool or warm.
Modern building designers are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits a sustainable building offers. The cost of constructing one is not high and the money saved in the long run is substantial. Key benefits you won’t find in a conventionally built structure.
Passive solar design
Passive solar design is one of the commonest and most popular ways to turn a building into a sustainable one. It essentially allows every major component to collect and distribute solar energy (like a giant solar panel) for continuous use in winter and reject heat during summer. Unlike solar panels, however, no mechanical devices are used. Instead, the building’s design facilitates this process.
Passive solar heated buildings feature windows oriented either north or south depending on which hemisphere one lives in, window glazing to prevent heat loss, building materials with high thermal mass like tile floors and brick walls, shading to keep out the harsh summer sun and natural ventilation to facilitate air flow.
In a non-sustainably built house, rainwater harvesting is not at the top of the list of requirements. Most of it is washed away or absorbed by the earth. However, in a sustainable building, the water is collected, filtered and available for use thereby reducing the reliance of municipal-supplied water.
This once-free resource has become expensive owing to demand and governments will increase its price as they attempt to recover the cost of providing water to communities. Hence, now’s a good time as any to start constructing houses with water harvesting capabilities.
Use of low-impact building materials
For even more sustainability, building materials considered environmentally friendly are used. Top choices include recycled steel, insulating concrete forms, structured insulated panels, recycled wood, and rammed earth. The last, though freely available, requires craftsmen who have experience building with dirt.
The benefits of sustainable design are truly numerous and the ones mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. For homeowners, increasing their property’s value is important because life events may one day decide they should relocate. During such times, commanding a tidy listing price is important because the cost of property is only going one way: up. Houses which are sustainably designed can fetch a higher selling price because buyers know they stand to save money in the long run.
The green movement is slowly but surely growing. Designing buildings with the aim to reduce carbon footprint helps the movement expand, improves the health of occupants, creates an environment that’s aesthetically pleasing and reduces strain on the local infrastructure. Heat island effect, a relatively modern phenomenon that’s affecting most urban dwellers, is also significantly reduced.
With so many benefits, isn’t it time we started to think and live sustainably? There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.