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A sustainable home is one that is energy efficient with a minimal carbon footprint and uses renewable resources for building materials. At one time, it was an alternative way of building, but as the environmental crisis accelerates, it is quickly becoming the status quo. Building a new home is a way to start completely fresh, and here are some ideas to help you start off your new life on the right foot by building a sustainable home.
If your future home is going to be part of new development, choose one such as Milcreek Development that places an emphasis on sustainable building. On the other hand, it may also be a good idea to choose an empty lot in a populated area, if possible, rather than a new development so as not to fragment the landscape. This can mean shorter commutes and more efficient utilities. Regardless of where you live, talk to any contractors you are thinking of hiring about your sustainable goals. Approximately 21% of all contractors are dedicated to building sustainable homes exclusively, while 33% make a majority of the projects they take on. Based on these figures, it should be fairly easy to find a contractor who understands and shares your building goals.
You can plan the landscaping for your property to minimize the negative effect it has on the surrounding environment. For example, you should choose native plants to grow on your property whenever possible. These provide food and shelter to wildlife and are adapted to survive on the amount of rainfall that you typically receive in your area. This means that you may not have to water as often. When you do have to water your plants, use runoff from the roof that you collect in rain barrels. Plant strategically and minimize impermeable hardscape to prevent run-off from your property from polluting nearby waterways.
Passive houses are designed to reduce heating and cooling needs through strategic design elements. These techniques include orienting the house so that it receives natural light and warmth from the sun, thus reducing the need for artificial lighting or central heating. This effect can be enhanced with an inbuilt heat recovery device in the ventilation system. The house should be effectively insulated with a highly airtight house envelope, and windows should resist heat transfer. This may require multiple panes.
With the increased interest in sustainable building, there are more options for environmentally responsible materials than there were in the past. Examples include recycled insulation; bamboo flooring; organic carpeting; and wood products that have been salvaged, reclaimed, or certified for sustainability. In addition to being more eco-friendly, choosing materials that are sustainable and organic also helps to improve the indoor air quality of your home. Many materials off-gas air pollutants such as volatile organic compounds, especially when they are new. These particles just keep floating around your home’s interior and can potentially make you sick.
Be honest about the amount of living space you need for you and your family. Design and build a home that does not exceed that amount of square footage. A small house doesn’t require as much energy to cool and heat, and it also requires fewer building materials. That doesn’t mean that you have to squeeze your family into a space that is insufficient; it just means that you should avoid building a larger home than you need.
As you are deciding on the fixtures for your home, look specifically for those that help you conserve energy and water, such as LED light bulbs, dual-flush toilets, and programmable thermostats.
In many cases, you can also leverage the power of technology to help you conserve more. For example, you can program a smart thermostat remotely. Ultimately, you can reduce or increase the temperature when you are out.
Author: Finnegan Pierson
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