Most modern houses are built with less consideration of the aspect of sustainability which begs the question; what is a sustainable house? A sustainable house is one that has been designed and constructed with efficiency and durability in mind. It is a house built with less resource, affordable and is healthy and safe to live in. When building a sustainable house, there are three main aspects that need to be considered.
- Economic sustainability: Most people will agree with me that when building a house ‘saving money and avoiding a lot of renovation in future’ is the key thing that should be in everyone’s mind. It is in fact the first thing to consider even before you come up with the design.
- Environmental sustainability: Saving water, reducing waste and energy usage are what environmental sustainability is all about. These in most countries are covered under ‘building standards and requirements regulations’
- Social sustainability: The house must have safety measures/features to prevent injuries and also security features to help prevent crime. The house should be designed such that it will be comfortable to everyone i.e. the elderly, children, person with disability etc.
Why build a sustainable house?
Building a sustainable house helps in environmental preservation and also in minimizing the cost of building a house. In addition it assures safety and consequently the health of the occupants. A sustainable built house reduces the house monthly cost and increases durability and efficiency while at the same time providing healthy and safe environment.
How to build a sustainable house
Sustainability should be considered from the outset i.e design/layout, construction and eventually landscaping. Here are some of the tips that will help you when constructing a sustainable house.
Planning the project
Planning involves a lot of consultation, interaction and communication between various parties. It is important to involve an environmental expert as he will be able to guide you in designing and constructing you house
This is the most important part as far as sustainability is concerned. This is mainly because the design of the building influences the type of the building material the house will require. In addition, it is at this point where one sets certain goals e.g. Longevity. ‘For how long should the house last’
Also the structure of the house is important when selecting sustainable material for construction. It is therefore essential to ensure that the structure that is decided upon is durable and can be easly demolished at the end of its life.
Energy usage is depended on the efficiency of the insulators and also on the way insulation is fitted. One of the areas of concern in preventing energy loss is thermal bridging. Thermal bridging is where the building element meets and is usually one of the main sources of heat loss. Renewable sources of power should also be considered. This can be used for heating water and to provide power for appliances. Some electrical items tend to consume a lot of power and therefore one should select this items based on their energy efficiency
Building material & Construction phase
When selecting building materials, you should look at it cost in different angles. Cheap option will save money but will require frequent maintenance which will end up being expensive. Also, you should also look at the impact of the material on the environment. This stage poses increased risk on environmental impact and loss of money. It is essential that the impact is minimized.
To build a sustainable house is easier said than done. It demands a lot of decision making but it is worth it. The three main areas that one must look out for when building a sustainable house is: safety and health, water and energy efficiency and material conservation