Energy-efficient, sustainable and eco-friendly building.
6 minute read time
One of the best parts about designing your own custom home is that you get the opportunity to create something that’s energy-efficient, sustainable, and eco-friendly. When you buy an old home or move into a new apartment, you’re often stuck with features that waste energy or water.
By building a custom home and integrating as many sustainable elements as possible, you can lower your environmental footprint from the get-go. A success full energy efficiant build is attained by coupling the design of your new space with things like passive heating through intelligent orientation, passive cooling through cross ventilation, solar hot water, solar electricity, high-performance insulation and double-glazed windows and a literal plethora of other energy-saving and eco-friendly building material that are now available.
But how do you make sure your home is being built with the kind of sustainability you had in mind? Many aspects make a home sustainable from its insulation to the use of biodegradable building materials. Even the direction or orientation that you build your home can have a role to play in its energy efficiency. We’ll go over everything you need to know about what makes architecture sustainable as you plan out your new custom home.
What Makes Architecture Sustainable?
When it comes to building energy-efficient homes, custom home builders need to take into account the building’s orientation, which refers to the direction in which the building faces. Orienting the building in proper relation to the sun and other elemental factors can lower the costs of lighting, heating, and even actively cool your home.
If you’re building in a warm climate like Sydney, then you want the building to be oriented, so the more exposed parts of the structure are protected and avoid unwanted solar heat gain. This will then contribute to the building requiring less energy to stay cool during the hotter months, as it won’t have to work against the direct rays of the sun.
While we’re speaking of the sun, it’s important to note that the sun isn’t our enemy in building sustainable architecture. In fact, the power of the sun as a renewable energy source can be utilised through the use of solar panel systems. Custom home builders are able to incorporate solar energy capabilities into new homes through things like solar roofing panels, walls, or even glass that captures sunlight during the day and convert it into solar energy.
Insulation & Airtightness
Insulation is one of the most important ways to avoid the waste of energy when it comes to heating or cooling a home. Insulation reduces the exchange of heat through a building’s surfaces, both when it comes to letting heat in and letting heat out. By ensuring proper insulation, you can keep cool air from escaping during the summer months and prevent the warm air from getting in.
In addition to insulating the building’s walls and roofs, it’s important to make sure that all the openings into the building are sealed airtight. Filling any gaps in the sealant around windows or underneath doors and using draught exclusion is vital to minimising heat transfer and increasing the energy efficiency of your home.
Another aspect of architecture that custom home builders can use to make homes more eco-friendly is by using double-glazed windows. Double-glazed windows use two sheets of glass instead of just one, providing a thicker barrier against outside temperatures. Many double-glazed windows fill the space in between the windowpanes with an inert gas like argon or xenon that makes the window even more resistant to temperature transfer.
Lighting is a major factor in the eco-friendliness of a building’s design.
By maximizing the use of natural light and using lighting products that are free from toxic materials, custom home builders can introduce sustainable lighting design. This involves things like installing skylights in order to make use of natural light during the day as well as orienting the structure to allow more daylight potential without taking on unwanted solar heat.
LED lighting has recently become quite mainstream as an energy-efficient option.
However, some LEDs are manufactured with high levels of lead and heavy metals such as copper, which can pose an environmental hazard. A good custom home builder will ensure you are well informed about your lighting options and the use of toxin-free LEDs to maximise energy efficiency without compromising eco-friendliness.
Biodegradable and Recycled Building Materials
Custom home builders and architects around the world are starting to use more and more biodegradable and recyclable building materials that are both eco-friendly and energy-efficient. Mycelium is a popular and versatile biodegradable building material that can be shaped into anything from bricks to walls to the foundation of your home.
Wooden shingles have also become a bio-degradable alternative to asphalt shingles, giving you a roof that’s less susceptible to wind hazards and can potentially reduce your energy costs. There are also many options when it comes to flooring, such as bamboo, which is not only biodegradable and sturdy but can be harvested in as little as six years.
Saving water is one of the easiest ways to be sustainable when building custom homes.
By installing water-saving fixtures that require very little hassle, you can reduce your use of water without having to worry as much about how often you flush or the length of your showers.
Many toilets, faucets, and showerheads are designed to be low flow, which means they can operate correctly with less water. You have an additional option with toilets in making them dual-flush, which gives you two different flush modes depending on how you use the toilet.
Faucets with automatic sensors are also helpful in that they both limit the flow rate of the water as well as the amount of time the faucet runs.
So How Do You Build Sustainable Custom Homes?
A good custom home specialist will work with you to decide which of these factors you want to incorporate into your new home. Not all of these aspects are as easily achieved or even possible for everyone, as many components require a major investment.
Here at Austral Build, we will go over your options with you to make sure your home is built to your environmental standards while staying within your budget.
Whether you choose to go all-in on double glazed windows or simply beef up your insulation, we will help you create the home you deserve.