As our time on Earth continues, the urgency to take care of the environment becomes greater. Beyond electric cars, there are ways to forge a life that lowers an individual’s role in the Earth’s pollution rate. One way is to own an eco-friendly home. Now, these aren’t just homes with people that recycle, but homes that were built in a way that they have a much lower carbon footprint than traditionally made homes.
We’re going to go into possible methods and materials to build yourself a beautiful house that supports both sustainable energy and has a reduced carbon footprint. We’ll discuss how you can do this with eco-friendly construction materials and methods, or by opting for an eco-modular home.
How to Build an Eco-Friendly Home
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Consider Modular or Prefabricated Homes
A modular or prefab (prefabricated) home is built indoors in a factory. These homes are usually constructed room by room, once finished, they’re transported to their permanent locations where a builder assembles the rooms to make a home. They are not mobile homes. They’re just built off-site then later brought to their permanent site.
Environmental Benefits of Modular Homes
According to a study from Arizona State University, modular homes fabricated, delivered and installed, saved 30-38% in carbon emissions compared to traditional site-built homes. That may not sound like a lot to some, but it is. The savings in carbon emissions could easily go up as construction companies improve the process, particularly delivery. That is the single aspect of modular homes that produces the greatest amount of carbon so it shouldn’t be too long before they figure out a way to improve this.
However, the modular homes built in factories that are close to the home installation site significantly save on emissions. As the popularity of these homes grows, we may start seeing small factories pop up in rising housing markets to meet real estate demand while drastically cutting down on eco-modular home delivery emissions.
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Build with Eco-Friendly Building Materials
Builing a home with eco-friendly materials is not only good for the environment but, if you can bring yourself to sell your eco-home one day, eco-friendliness is really attractive for prospective buyers. So, whether you’re building an on-site home from the ground up or designing your modular home, here are some eco-friendly building materials that minimize environmental impact and promote sustainable energy.
Recycled Steel and Aluminum
Recycled steel is one of the most popular green building materials out there. Just think about all the natural resources you’re saving by using recycled steel versus having to harvest all the materials to create the steel for your home. Between all of the mining, forges, heating, shaping, and transporting heavy metal, the process of producing steel takes a lot of energy so using recycled steel is a wise decision.
Similar to recycled steel, reclaimed wood is a popular option for green homes because it knocks out the environmental impact of needing to harvest new timber, cut, transport over huge distances, etc. reducing emissions. Reclaimed wood can be used in the construction, flooring, or even for decorative exposed beams to give your home a cabin feel.
Because it’s easily harvestable and doesn’t take a lot to produce sheep’s wool, meaning, sheep naturally reproduce their coat throughout the year, so it’s highly sustainable. Many homeowners use sheep’s wool as insulation in their homes. It doesn’t deteriorate as quickly as other natural insulation materials, but it can be more expensive than some natural options.
The experts agree, bamboo is one of the best materials to use in an eco-friendly home. It has a great deal of durability and tensile strength which is resistance to being pulled apart. It actually has greater tensile strength than steel and an even greater compressive strength than brick or concrete. AKA Bamboo is much strong and doesn’t need regular replacement. It’s highly sustainable because bamboo is reforested much quicker than pine and cedar, and it grows throughout the world. You can use it in flooring, cabinetry, screens, and mats.
This non-toxic, naturally anti-microbial, and impermeable yet breathable construction material is so versatile its popularity is increasing in eco-friendly home construction projects. Cork is used as flooring, exterior finish, wall coverings, rigid insulation, countertops, and more.
Since straw bales are incredibly useful for insulating purposes, they are often placed in walls, attics and ceilings to provide cooler temperatures in the summer and keep the house warmer in the winter. They’re sustainable because straw can be harvested and re-planted easily, and made into bales with very minimal environmental impact.
Note: If you’re building a home on-site from the ground up, LoadUp can help you get rid of the yard debris like tree branches, sawdust, soil, landscape waste and more.
If you want to minimize the horizontal footprint of your home take advantage of building vertically. This way you keep as much land around the house as undisturbed as possible. Lofts are a popular option for smaller eco-homes to really get the maximum square footage while still minimizing the impact on the land.
When deciding on what type of stairs to use, think about what’s most important to you. If you want the stairs to take up the least amount of space as possible, opt for spiral staircases. If you want to avoid disturbing the light coming through the windows choose modern stairs with spaces between the treads or a floating staircase.
However, if you have little ones or plan on it, these may not be the safest option for crawling. Instead, play with the floorplan and layout of the stairs until you’re satisfied with where it’s going to be and how much space it’ll take up.
Use Eco-Friendly Interior Designs
Now, here’s the fun part. The interior design of your home is pretty important since you spend a crazy amount of hours in there. It’s no secret that your surroundings can affect your mood, but thankfully eco-friendly design is naturally aesthetic.
Yes, eco homes are popularly made with very modern designs, but it’s not a requirement of having an eco-friendly home. Your home can look classic and old, but still be made with the Earth’s sustainability in mind.
Bring the Outside Inside
A unifying idea of eco-friendly living is to bring more of the outdoors into your home and decorating with organic materials. You don’t have to be super crazy here, cause who doesn’t love a simple, super leafy green house plant in the living room?
Houseplants liven up space by adding green life to your home but they also improve the air quality. Simplicity is popular in the eco world but if you have a little extra room in the budget you can get fancy with an impressive living wall that promotes all kinds of greenery indoors.
Plan Window Placement Carefully
Windows should also be placed with intention. If you prefer your bedroom to be cooler put its window facing trees that will block the sunlight or have it face it north or south to avoid the rising and setting of the sun going east to west. If you want your kitchen and living room to get a lot of light, then definitely have those windows facing towards the rise and setting sun.
Large sun-facing windows let in a lot of natural heat during the day so your home can remain warm during the winter, but too warm during the summer. This is easily remedied by using blinds or coupling the large windows with the right wall insulation so it remains cool even though there is a lot of sun coming in.
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Use Repurposed or Eco-friendly Home Products
When deciding any aspect of the design of your new home, do a quick search to see if there are greener alternatives or repurposed products to those you find in the mainstream market.
For example, mainstream paints can carry all kinds of volatile organic compounds that release toxins into the air. Instead, you can use eco paints that have low to zero VOCs, and they’ll still give you the same custom color that you would find in any other brand of paint.
You should also limit the amount of waste you produce while living in your home to also greatly reduce your carbon footprint. You can do this through reusable towels, reusable shopping bags, composting and more.
Decorate with Sustainable or Recycled Furniture
To make your home truly through and through green, look into furnishing it mostly with sustainable furniture. It’s going to be difficult, we won’t lie, but if it’s important to you we’re sure you’ll take the time to find the right furniture for your eco-friendly home.
Sustainable furniture is made from materials whose sourcing had low or no environmental impact, have small carbon footprints, don’t involve production processes that create toxic pollution, and the furniture may be reused, recycled, or is biodegradable.
When it’s time to get rid of the furniture that no longer lines up with your green lifestyle, make sure you repurpose, sell, or recycle. If the furniture item was pretty bad for the environment just to produce it, imagine how bad it could be if it’s improperly disposed of.
You can do it by listing it for sale online or dragging it to a recycling facility. But, if you don’t have enough time or the right resources you can always hire an eco-friendly junk removal company like LoadUp to take your furniture for you. We’re fast, affordable, and professional while maintaining a strong desire to dispose of whatever furniture we can through green disposal methods whether that be through charitable donations, recycling, or repurposing.
Keep Your Utilities Eco-Friendly
Whether you are or aren’t building a house from the ground up, there are ways to adapt an existing home to reduce the cost of running it and reduce carbon emissions at the same time.
Heating and Cooling
Install a programmable thermostat that allows you to set at what time during the day want the house to be heated or cooled. You save money and energy especially if your home doesn’t let in as much sun. Also, if you want to keep up with modern technology and inch your home into the smart-eco-home realm then a smart thermostat can do that and more!
You can also incorporate geothermal energy, which is getting energy from steam or hot water reservoirs underground. Obviously, this is a much, much more advanced method and not retro-fittable to existing homes. However, since the heat from the water drives an electric generator, it is really awesome and highly effective at minimizing a house’s carbon footprint.
Install a rainwater harvesting tank. While you can’t use the tank water for drinking, but you can for laundry, watering the plants, washing your car, and more. They also reduce the risk of flooding and soil erosion since it’s collecting all of the rainwater around your home.
If you can’t do this you can still reduce your footprint by ensuring there are no leaks in your pipes or faucets, turning off your faucet as you brush your teeth, do dishes, only washing full loads of clothing and more.
Bad news, electricity is expensive. Good news, it’s easy to manage it and make your home energy efficient. Simple things like using timers for your lights, getting a water heater jacket, and changing out the lightbulbs in your home for eco-friendly compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) all add up to greatly reduce your monthly electric bill.
However, overall it would be pretty wise if you wanted to invest in the power of solar energy. Don’t worry, it’s no longer limited to those giant solar panels that are bolted to your roof.
Nowadays there are solar roof shingles that are small and customized to fit almost seamlessly with traditional roof tiles. They’re sleek, durable and withstand the elements while still absorbing light for your home’s energy use.
Keep It Cool and Keep it Green
We’re very excited for you to continue your home design journey. The more that people create these homes or prove there’s a demand for it, the more it pushes the green home technology envelope, getting us that much closer to eliminating the use of fossil fuels completely and reducing the amount of waste on our planet.
While incorporating even just one of these methods in your home is better than nothing, it really takes the combination of many eco-friendly home construction methods to make a difference in your carbon footprint. Just make sure as you design your new home that you check the building codes of your area so that your timeline will not be hindered. Have fun making your home sustainable, green, and easy for you and the planet to live with.
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