The WWF (World Wildlife Fund) warns that 2020 is a critical year for the future of our planet. This year alone, we saw more flooding in the central United States, a long and expensive wildfire season on the East Coast, and droughts across the Plains. In November 2019, 11,000 scientists from all over the world published a report that says humanity must brace itself for “untold suffering” as climate change and its effects are progressing much faster than they expected.
If we want to create a healthy and sustainable future for the next generations, then we must do what we can to help protect the world’s ecosystems and natural resources even as we try to meet our daily needs. If homeowners want to be part of the sustainable revolution, they need to start with their homes are built, especially at a time when people are spending more time at home than ever before. Here are some sustainable home design ideas and trends that can help save the planet.
A “green building” is any structure that, in its design, construction, and function lessens or eliminates negative environmental impacts, and tries to create positive impacts, on our climate. A green or home or building is one that:
- Uses sustainable building materials, like recycled, reused, or reprocessed building materials, sustainably harvested materials like wood, quickly renewable like bamboo, non-toxic and non-allergenic, and locally-sourced materials.
- Builds energy and water-efficiency into the plans. A water-efficient home may collect rainwater and reuses gray water, or can also apply simple measures like low-flow toilets and showerheads; while an energy-efficient home is well-insulated, is all about installing energy-smart appliances, and incorporates plenty of windows and skylights for increased use of natural light.
- Emphasized indoor air quality. A green home minimizes or eliminates materials that add allergens and toxins into the air.
Smart buildings are also known as “digital extensions” to many kinds of architectural and engineering activities. Simply put, a smart building is a structure that facilitates automated processes to automatically control a building’s operations like ventilation, heating, lighting, air conditioning, security, and others. Smart buildings can be beneficial to the environment because they are designed in a way that minimizes energy costs and mitigates environmental impact.
A prefabricated home, or a prefab, is built off-site and then shipped to the site in parts to be assembled on the homeowner’s home lot. The term “prefab home” is the word used to characterize any home that is built in a factory. Prefabricated homes are good for the environment and homeowners because the way they’re built produces less waste, they use more durable materials that will survive shipment, it uses much less construction time, and they work best for remote lots.
The term “cargotecture” was created in the early 2000s to characterize a building that was built entirely or partially from recycled and repurposed shipping containers. You would think that recycled containers wouldn’t be durable, but they have the structural strength to support a building. Cargotecture homes can utilize valuable materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. Cargotecture homes are not only sustainable, secure, and durable; in some cases, they are also relocatable.
A tiny house is exactly as it sounds — a home with an average size of 186 square feet, which consumes much less energy than a typical house. The tiny house revolution started due to its many benefits: mobility since tiny homes can easily be transported to new pieces of lands; affordability, since the building costs only a fraction of the price of a traditional house, with the added benefit of customization; little monthly costs; and much less time and resources spent on cleaning.
Sustainable land management
Sustainable land management in property and real estate is a knowledge-based process that aims to integrate the management of land and other resources to meet human needs while sustaining the ecosystem. Using sustainable methods to manage land, biodiversity, and water in residences can help mitigate the effects of natural disasters. Rockwell terracing, for example, can help significantly with soil erosion control.
Homes made with non-toxic materials like formaldehyde (usually found in plywood, particleboard, and other pressed wood products) release harmful VOCs (usually found in stains, preservatives, paints, and adhesives). Homes that choose non-toxic materials can help in eliminating or lessening these hazards, making the structure and the air around it as clean as possible.
If you’re building your dream home, consider going the sustainable route. Being part of the sustainable revolution means that while climate change can only be combated on a global level, every homeowner in the world can still play a part in saving the planet.