Opting for an eco-friendly build will not only minimise the impact your home has on the environment – you’ll also create a happy and healthy space that will be more comfortable to live in and cost you less to run.
When meeting with your builder to discuss design, materials and other features, it’s important to be aware of some key considerations that will impact the eco credentials of a new build – here are some questions to ask at the start.
What Are Your Credentials in Sustainable Design?
At the end of the day, you are putting your dream eco home into somebody else’s hands so you want work with a respected builder who has a positive reputation within the sustainable building community. The best place to start is with research, more research and, you guessed it, even more research. When working with a green company, ask yourself:
- What is their building philosophy?
- What are their strengths as builders?
- What awards they have won and why?
- What eco credentials and sustainable training do they have?
- What materials do they use? (look at case studies of homes they have built)
- What testimonials and feedback are past clients giving, positive and negative?
The key is too look for transparency on the builder’s part and never be afraid to ask too many questions. At Eco Essence Homes, we encourage our clients to ask as many questions as they need in order for them to feel comfortable and get a better understanding of the process. Talk to your builder about their processes and build inclusions to give you a better idea of how committed they are to being green and constructing creative, inspiring and sustainable homes. Most importantly, these conversations will shed light on how devoted they are to achieving your goal of designing and building the eco friendly home of your dreams.
What Look Do I Want?
Before consulting with a builder, it’s important to have an idea of the look that you want for your home. Here are some thought starters:
- Traditional and charming—think Hamptons or Queenslander homes complete with a gabled roof and Scyon Linea weatherboards for a classic look.
- Modern and geometric: Opt for a minimalist look including parapet walls and Scyon Matrix for an industrial aesthetic. A flat roof could be planted for thermal benefits and extra greenery.
What Is the Best Orientation for The Home?
Where your home sits on the block and the direction it faces plays a key factor in designing an eco-friendly home. Solar orientation can have a significant impact on its heating and cooling abilities, so planning optimal positioning to take advantage of climatic features such as sun exposure and cooling breezes is vital to any building and renovating process.
Work with your builder to find the best possible position for light and cross ventilation so you won’t need to rely on air conditioning to maintain a comfortable temperature. You should also reflect the orientation and form of the roof design and ensure this allows solar panel access and what impact they’ll have on the aesthetic of your home. Eco Essence starts any new build with careful consideration of light and wind, using these factors to make the most of every property. Once you have this information, a small window in the right spot can make a massive difference.
How Can I Maximise Natural Light?
The orientation of your home not only affects its ability to stay cool in summer and warm in winter – it also plays an important role in how much natural sunlight your home receives throughout the day. With the right advice on which direction the winter sun and summer sun come from at different times of day, the addition of a window or skylight can have a big impact on light.
If your home is south-facing, make sure light isn’t being blocked. If you plan to build a staircase, discuss the option of open treads and balustrades. High ceilings with open trusses and an open plan design will typically create a bright, airy feeling by helping to harness every bit of light possible, while selecting the right tiles and paint finishes can also help the light to reflect and bounce around a room.
What Materials Will Be Used?
The materials used for an eco-friendly home are important for several reasons. Firstly, minimising pollutants by making sustainable, non-toxic choices is fundamental to good air quality. Secondly, choosing products that have lower-embodied energy will mean less energy consumption. Thirdly, reusing and recycling building materials has a lesser impact on the environment than using new product.
At Eco Essence Homes, materials are carefully selected for their eco credentials. For example, thermal mass in the form of waffle pod slab and an exposed polished concrete floor can capture natural sunrays to store heat for when it’s needed, while lightweight cladding and the right insulation can provide excellent thermal performance and therefore help to regulate the internal temperature of the home without added bulkiness.
Additionally, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are one of the worst offenders when it comes to air pollutants. The team at Eco Essence Homes selects paints, glues, materials and finishes that have no – or low – VOCs to ensure homeowners can enjoy the healthiest air possible. Chat to your builder about the best non-toxic options for your home.
What Else Can I do to Minimise Power Usage?
After making the most of its natural environment, Eco Essence Homes advises utilising good quality insulation for walls, ceilings and sub floors suited to your climatic conditions, which can reduce heating and cooling losses and cut your bills by up to half as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Other sustainable features to discuss with your builder include a rainwater tank, LED downlights, gas cooktops, evacuated tube solar hot water systems and solar panels. These small changes, that may seem costly at first – when used in conjunction with a quality, energy-efficient build – can add up to have an enormous impact, reducing the ongoing costs whilst putting your valued money back in your pocket and creating a sustainable, lifestyle-oriented home for you and your family.