The construction industry is one of the largest consumers of electricity and is resource intensive over the course of both domestic and commercial builds. As environmental concerns rise globally, the building sector has been evolving in order to develop cleaner, cheaper and greener methods of sustainable building, with a variety of new materials. If you’re interested in Geelong home builders, Fremantle, Cairns or anywhere in between, read below for the latest building strategies that incorporate a sustainable focus to deliver superior performance and lower running costs.
Reducing reliance on air conditioners or artificial heating is an essential factor in new home designs that seek a sustainable energy rating. In order to still maintain thermal comfort for the occupants, a new home should engage with passive architecture design principles that allow for ventilation and insulation, such as passive solar design. These may include paying attention to the orientation of the house on the block, external glazing, having larger windows on the north side of a house to catch morning sun, insulated roofs and walls and sufficient cross ventilation where appropriate. Even more accessible are items such as solar hot water. These are not new principles, per se, but tend to be compromised on cheaper builds or even in instances where the home owner has not made it a priority in the design process.
Green building methods also offer vital contributions to a sustainable build, with various types of solutions available for any building. For the domestic home, these could include energy efficient windows, green roofing, bio retentions cells (also known as rain gardens), grey water systems, composting toilets, VOC free flooring and conducting an energy audit on the house once erected.
Another option when sustainably designing, is the incorporation of low impact building materials that reduce use of non-renewable resources and carbon dioxide emissions during their production. One such material is industrial hemp which has great agronomic qualities, in this instance meaning it is an annual, high yield and slender crop that is able to be harvested with haymaking machines. You can use the hemp fibre as insulation, which is derived from the stem of the plant and more recently it has been explored as a natural replacement for metal or glass in fibre reinforced concrete. Hempcrete, which is a hemp lime composite originally used in France, is now commonly used around the world in wall, roof and floor insulation. Recent studies have highlighted that use of natural fibres deliver strong potential as CO2 sinks and also reduce reliance on non-renewable materials. Low density, hemp hurd panels used as thermal insulation have also performed well with studies (Sassoni et al. 2014) demonstrating their low thermal conductivity, which equates to a more environmentally sound building overall.
So when you’re designing your home, take some time to investigate the many sustainable options that are increasingly available when building a new structure. Not only will these be environmentally friendly, but over time, will save money on energy and provide a more comfortable living environment.