An Eco-friendly home or a green home is a house that is built and designed using environmentally friendly techniques, materials, and appliances. An Eco-friendly home doesn’t just mean a home where your roof is covered in solar panels — it can be anything from energy-efficient lighting to low-flow water fixtures, using soy paint from installing large windows to optimise natural light. A smart and true Eco-friendly home is a home containing features that are environmentally cautious within its design, construction, operation, and maintenance.
Sustainably Sourced Wood
Construction materials play a big part in the building of an Eco-friendly home. Sustainably sourced wood is a renewable source and has minimal carbon emissions. Other building materials are made in mass but also have a hazardously large carbon footprint. Wood and timber are versatile, have a good load-bearing capacity, and also have good acoustic qualities.
Renewable Energy Sources
The next step is to find smart ways to power your home. Instead of mass-produced electricity, opt for mechanisms that make your home energy efficient choosing renewal sources. Modern heat pumps to heat and cool your home, solar panels on your rooftop, solar thermal panels on your rooftop, and utilizing wind power are some popular energy sources.
Manage your Plastic
Almost all the things we wear and use in our home contain some amount of plastic. Plastic is a ubiquitous enemy of the environment as we all know. Try and buy items that are in steel and glass jars, versus plastic. The easiest way to reduce the plastic in your home is to start in the kitchen. Make the shift from plastic water bottles to glass, plastic chopping boards to wooden, and so on. There are several innovative ways that plastic is also used in construction. Plastic concrete bricks and bottled houses aren’t a widely used form of construction but are in progress to becoming the building blocks of the future.
Another housing component that’s Eco-friendly is green roofs. They’re a good way to add oxygen generating plants that battle the adversity of the urban sprawl in residential areas. They also help reduce the influx of heat, stormwater management, elongating the durability of the house’s roof membranes, and have aesthetic benefits as well.
Rainwater harvesting has become imperative with the shortage in the water supply. Droughts and water shortage can stagger the population so adding a water conservation system to your home has become a need more than a trend. Installing rainwater harvesting systems so you can collect and reuse the water helps reduce your overall water consumption thereby making your home green. You can purify this water for drinking purposes as well.
Switch out your incandescent bulbs for LEDs that are more environmentally friendly and use natural light in your home whenever possible.
Karnataka’s Eco-friendly Home
Hubli based architect, Jitendra P Nayak has always followed the sustainable approach to architecture.
When it came to building his own home on a 2500 Sq Feet plot, he constructed it by reusing old materials and that cut costs by 40%. Through the use of a material called Ferrocement slabs, the steel usage was cut down by 80%. The same material also saved the overall cement usage by 60%. The low usage of cement and stones ensured far less pollution to the surrounding during construction.
It is a climate-resilient home which means the new techniques for construction and ventilation around his home have resulted in zero need for Air conditioning. The bricks of his home remain exposed and there is zero use of plaster in the construction. The wood in his home has been reused. The wood for the staircases, panels, rails, grills has all been upcycled.
There are large windows in “sunspots” throughout the house to ensure the optimization of natural light, thereby keeping in mind the energy-efficient factor. The house is also equipped with rainwater harvesting systems to store water and a solar heating and power system.
I have been passionate about reusing materials, and as an architect, I have helped restore several old heritage buildings in Hubli. We have even rescued a building that was on the verge of demolition by converting it into a modern IT cell a few years ago. When you go into the kitchen, you decide to cook with what’s available. This is the same philosophy we need to adopt with architecture. We must make use of what is available to us and get over this notion that using newer materials will ensure a better home. The idea is to use new techniques to utilize these materials and build a home that is light on mother earth.
Some Easy Sustainable Swaps at Home
Use rags instead of paper towels
Use cloths napkins instead of paper napkins
Walk to the shops instead of driving or getting public transport
Use a refillable water bottle instead of single-use plastic ones
Use a reusable tote or hemp bags instead of plastic bags
Use cotton or plant/beeswax wraps for your food instead of plastic wrap or aluminum foil
Use a tea strainer instead of a teabag (teabags contain microplastics which are polluting our waters and killing thousands of sea-creatures)
We are currently in the midst of a climate crisis. We can no longer call it “climate change”, the change is here and we’ve to deal with the crisis. We will see a real change when all us rally together on this and make appropriate changes in our lives that better the environment. Our homes are where we spend the most time, so why make them green and start there?