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Embracing Sustainability in Housing: A Call to Action for a Greener Future

A village of houses where every house has a green roof

Image: Unsplash. Tommy Kwak

As our planet warms and we see the impacts of climate change, the spotlight is on sustainability. The concept of sustainability, rooted in the Latin term 'sustinere', meaning to maintain, support, uphold, or endure, holds a significant place in our efforts to protect the environment. This termfirst entered general vocabulary in 1972 through the pages of the British book 'Blueprint for Survival'. For more than four decades, conservationists and many scientists have advocated for a shift towards sustainability in our living spaces and daily choices. Their collective efforts aim to foster a more environmentally conscious way of life.

In our current era, rapid urbanisation and the impacts of climate change are at the forefront of some of our environmental issues. The choices we make in constructing and inhabiting our homes hold the key to driving positive environmental change. Traditional construction methods, which rely on non-renewable energy sources, often result in big bills and a heavy dependence on fossil fuels. Thankfully, a range of alternatives exist, whether you're embarking on a new build, making adjustments to your current home, or seeking everyday tips to foster a greener environment that benefits both the Earth and your wallet.

Key elements of eco house design

Image: Elemental Green

Large Scale Projects

For those embarking on the journey of building their own homes, the initial thought is the typeof house that will become the base of their lifestyle. In a world teeming with diverse housing options, the decision ultimately hinges on your preferred way of living, your commitment to environmental stewardship, and, your financial commitment.

  • Shipping container homes, tiny houses, and prefabricated dwellings can betransported or constructed on-site with huge savings. They also boast efficient heatingand cooling abilities.

  • Zero-carbon and passive houses harness the power of natural elements to power theirhomes, setting a new standard for environmentally conscious living.

  • Straw bale homes and earthships utilise natural or recycled materials in theirconstruction, significantly reducing their ecological footprint and simplifying repairs andalterations, all while remaining budget-friendly.

Medium Scale Projects

You don’t have to build a whole new house to have a big impact. Here are a few ideas to green your home and reduce your bills:

  • Ground source heat pump: These use the natural heat stored in the ground to heat homes. As these are very energy efficient, operating costs are a fraction of those produced by fossil fuels. There is minimal environmental impact and if properly maintained will have a longer lifespan than a traditional heating system.

  • Solar panels: By converting the suns energy into power we are able to reduce ourcarbon footprint, have energy independence and often there are financial incentivesfor installing green initiatives.

  • Water tanks: Collected rainwater can be used to flush toilets, in washing machinesand to water gardens.

  • Green roof: Aside from being wonderful for biodiversity, green roofs keep a housecooler and minimise storm water run off rate.

  • Insulate: Insulation is key to a more efficiently heated household. Good insulation can come in the form of improved roof insulation, double glazed windows, draft excluders and curtains. All will help to reduce the running costs of your home and therefore reduced carbon footprint.

Smaller Scale Projects

On a smaller scale there are many things you could adapt around the house to increaseefficiency and lesson environmental impact.

  • Use natural cleaning products

  • Use only cold water wash in the washing machine

  • Line dry instead of tumble dry

  • Compost any food waste

  • Minimise consumption to live a more minimalist life

  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair and Repurpose

  • Plant an energy efficient garden or better still plant a food garden to supply you withfresh vegetables and fruit without any plastic packaging.

The imperative for sustainable housing has never been more apparent. By incorporating solar panels, heat pumps, water tanks, and other eco-friendly practices into our homes, we can takemeaningful steps towards reducing our collective environmental impact. It is our responsibilityto prioritise sustainability in housing, not only for the well-being of our planet but also for the prosperity and health of future generations.


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