Benefits of Environmentally Friendly and Sustainable Designs for the Modern Builder
April 15, 2015
There's a misconception that so-called 'Green' building designs are all about cutting-edge technology and costs that will quickly drain your wallet. While this view might have been true in the past, in the fledgling days when environmentally friendly housing was a novelty, today's sustainable designs are ready for the real world. First of all, those designs don't look like refugees from science-fiction movies or as if they belong to a hipster millionaire in Northern California. Instead, they're affordable to the general public thanks to modern materials and intelligent designs that adopt new architectural techniques. Again, it's tempting to envisage cold concrete and glass structures from out of a trendy designers portfolio, but these structures retain a crucial connection to the natural world, a realm that's adept at managing universal energy sources.
The challenging task taken on by these designs is to reach a zero emission state, thus reducing the carbon footprint of the home to the point where energy is produced instead of lost. The upside in this situation is simply to save hard cash by eliminating energy losses. Solar panels heat the water circulating around the home, with newly developed smart circuitry converting the solar input into electricity that can be stored in the latest generation of batteries and fuel cells. On the sustainable material front, lumber is considered a major part of Earth's air recycling mechanism, which leaves many builders wondering where eco-friendly building materials are coming from when wood sourced from a forest is not a viable option. Wood chip and reconstituted wood products are the solution. These materials are processed at special waste facilities and 'pressed' into sheets. When combined with cellulose-based insulation, a product made from recycled paper, the walls and ceilings of the environmentally friendly home preserve existing energy in the home and have the benefit of cutting lost heat to near zero.
All other typical avenues of loss are counterbalanced by new and old sustainable designs. Low water-usage plumbing fixtures lower the water bill to compete with that super-low electricity usage invoice. Recycling designs enter the equation, acting as water conservation systems while delivering grey water to the outside where it irrigates thirsty plants. Meanwhile, these additional systems could be considered an expense, but it's a justifiable cost, especially when adding up these costs over the long-term. The solar panels pay for themselves over 5 years as utility costs drop. The same approach can be encouraged when installing superior windows, with new window tinting delivering warmth to the interior during winter months while blocking the harsh winter sun.
Finally, all of these eco-friendly housing designs can also benefit from new geothermal heating and cooling systems, the addition of a passive temperature-control system that uses the depths of the earth to regulate energy and provide free hot water.
Connor Pincus Group. Consulting Engineers.
Address: 1196 Toorak Road, CAMBERWELL, VIC 3124
Phone: (03) 9835 5000
Fax: (03) 9835 5050
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