What is an Eco Home?

Eco Home
Eco Home

The green building trend has been gaining ground around the world. It can involve a wide variety of construction and operation attributes that make a building more environmentally friendly than other buildings in some way.

These characteristics can include methods for conserving water, using sustainably sourced building materials and taking advantage of renewable energy, such as solar power. One of the main tenets of an eco-friendly home, though, is energy efficiency.

1. Key Elements of an Eco Home

What’s more, an eco house could include some or all of the following:

  • High levels of insulation
  • High levels of airtihtness
  • Good levels of daylight
  • Superior double or triple-glazed windows
  • Passive solar orientation — glazing oriented south for light and heat. And, minimum north-facing glazing to reduce heat loss
  • Thermal mass to absorb that solar heat
  • Brise soleil, deep overhangs, air conditioning and other features to manage overheating
  • Heating and/or hot water provision from a renewable source (such as solar, heat pump or biomass)
  • Renewable energy sources
    Renewable energy sources

    A healthy indoor environment, which may include a mechanical ventilation with heat recovery system in a highly airtight home

  • Specifying electricity from a ‘green’ supplier
  • Natural materials and avoidance of plastics
  • Rainwater harvesting and greywater collection
  • Living off-mains.

2. Renewable energy sources

Finding smart ways to power up our homes is an essential part of keeping up with the times.
Instead of opting for mass-produced electricity, you can make your house energy efficient by choosing renewable energy sources.

There are basically 4 ways to go about it:

  1. Install modern heat pumps to heat and cool your home;
  2. Installing photovoltaic solar panels on your rooftop;
  3. Install solar thermal panels on your roof;
  4. consider wind power
Eco-friendly materials for building a house
Eco-friendly materials for building a house

3. Eco-friendly materials for building a house

Numerous eco-friendly building materials have emerged in the marketplace to reduce the environmental impact of building construction and operations. But identifying the world’s most eco-friendly building materials can be a bit tricky because different people have different definitions of sustainability.

Some, for example, solely look at whether a material is locally sourced. They seek out “things that are available, that don’t have to travel far, that are using local resources and what is easily available in the construction market,” Eric Mackres, manager of building sustainability at the World Resources Institute Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, told Smart Cities Dive. “That’s one definition of eco. Another one would be around the embodied energy of the materials.”

4. Bamboo

Sustainability experts nearly universally agree bamboo is one of the best eco-friendly building materials on the planet. Its rate of self-generation is incredibly high, with some species growing up to three feet in 24 hours. Bamboo technically is a perennial grass, not a wood, and it continues spreading and growing without having to be replanted after harvest. It is prevalent around the world and can be found on every continent except Europe and Antarctica.

Bamboo has a high strength-to-weight ratio and exceptional durability — even greater compressive strength than brick or concrete — so it can take a beating without being replaced very often, which is not necessarily the case with other fast-growing, sustainable items such as hemp. That makes bamboo a viable choice for flooring and cabinetry.

5. Cork

Like bamboo, cork is a fast-growing resource. It earns bonus points for its ability to be harvested from a living tree that will continue to grow and reproduce cork, which is a tree bark.

Cork is flexible and resilient, reverting to its original shape after sustaining pressure. Its resilience and resistance to wear make it a common element in floor tiles. Its noise absorption abilities also make it perfect for insulation sheets, and its shock absorption qualities make it well-suited for sub-flooring. If left uncoated, cork is naturally fire resistant and it doesn’t release toxic gases when it does burn. This also makes cork a good thermal insulator.

Cork is nearly impermeable so it does not absorb water or rot. Over time however, cork does become more brittle. Cork loses a few sustainability points because it is primarily found in the Mediterranean, and shipping cost ends up being a considerable factor. However, cork also is extremely light so it requires less energy to ship, thus salvaging its embodied energy score.

6. Recycled glass

There’s no way to avoid using glass in your home construction unless you decide you don’t want windows (and not having windows is obviously a bad idea for countless reasons).

Unfortunately, the production of glass isn’t the most eco-friendly. The melting activities required in the production of glass results in CO2 emissions.

Nonrenewable raw materials, such as sand and minerals, are also required to produce glass.

Fortunately, the glass manufacturing industry has been implementing new technologies to help reduce their impact on the environment.

Nevertheless, you should consider using recycled glass wherever possible.

For example, you can use recycled glass tiles for your kitchen and bathroom floors, walls, backsplashes, and countertops.

You may even be able to find a local vendor that sells 100 percent locally recycled glass.

Just make sure that if you do purchase recycled glass tiles, that they are made using VOC-free pigment.

By using recycled glass, you’re not contributing to some of the environmental harm involved in the production of new glass.

Additionally, the use of recycled glass won’t result in a loss of quality. This is because there’s no downcycling involved (a process in which a material is broken down to be recycled, causing a loss in quality).

Eco Home 1
Eco Home 1

7. Reclaimed wood

In general, wood is very eco-friendly; however, it’s often not a sustainable material.

This is because wood has to be cut down and processed before being transported to your location. Trees that are cut down take a very long time to regrow.

This is unfortunate because wood is one of the highest quality materials you can use in the building of your home.

Wood can be used for flooring, siding, roofing, cabinets, doors, and much, much more. Wood has been used in construction for thousands of years due to its durability and its unique visual appeal. 

Fortunately, you can still use wood as a building material. One sustainable method for using wood is by using reclaimed wood.

This involves using wood that was used in previous construction projects. For example, wood from an old farmhouse or from an old dock that was torn down in your area.

Not only are you reusing wood to prevent further deforestation and unsustainable manufacturing processes (such as the use of refining chemicals in lumber production), but by buying your reclaimed wood from a local source, you help reduce your carbon footprint even further. 

Reclaimed wood can be reused in your home’s construction and can provide an even more unique aesthetic as a result of its aged and weathered appearance, which helps to provide character that newer wood doesn’t always have.

In fact, many people leave their reclaimed wood unpainted and unstained as a result, which helps limit VOCs.

8. Cellulose insulation

There are a lot of eco-friendly solutions when it comes to insulating your home; however, cellulose insulation is one of the (if not the) most eco-friendly options out there.

Cellulose insulation is made from 85 percent recycled materials, including newspaper and other types of paper.

These materials would otherwise have decomposed in a landfill, contributing to the release of harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

It’s estimated that if all of the paper that is dumped into the world’s landfills were to be converted to cellulose insulation, it would reduce CO2 emissions by as much as eight million tons.

Producing cellulose insulation requires very little energy as well.

The Ecology of Life portal is dedicated to environmental issues and nature protection. We share knowledge and advice on how to preserve the environment and live a healthy eco-life. Join us to make the world a cleaner and greener place for future generations.

The Ecology of Life portal is dedicated to environmental issues and nature protection. We share knowledge and advice on how to preserve the environment and live a healthy eco-life. Join us to make the world a cleaner and greener place for future generations.

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