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  • Writer's pictureKelvin Mureithi

Sustainable Homes: A (Very) Brief Introduction

These days designing a new building or renovating a house to reduce energy use or improve indoor comfort is quite a common thing. 


Contractors have not been left behind in green building either. In Australia, builders and contractors pursue use tools such as Passivhaus and Green Star (offered by the Green Building Council of Australia) to assist in managing sustainability in the design and construct process.

And this is one of the many ways of encouraging sustainability in the construction industry. The upsurge in green building and sustainable construction gives rise to an elementary question.


Just what is a sustainable home? 


Sustainable homes/living. ESD consultants Queensland.

And why is sustainable construction and green building all the rage now?


Sustainability refers to our active efforts to conserve resources and use them in an efficient and manner—with a view to preserving these resources for future generations.


Ultimately and inevitably, these efforts have extended to all facets of our interactions with the environment - including the construction industry.


This fascination with sustainability has been informed by various factors.


Among the most common reasons why sustainable construction has become quite a common feature is the impending population boom. It is estimated that the world will experience population growth of about 33% by the year 2050.


This factor alone creates an obligation to start managing resources in a more prudent manner. These resources range from water to building materials to energy needed for cooking and heating. 


Thus, sustainable architecture partly originates from necessity.


Sustainability as a concept in construction is simple enough to grasp.


Think of a house as a living and breathing entity with its own energy demands – electricity to light it and cool/ventilate it, natural gas to heat it, and water to hydrate it. It goes without saying that a building occupied by people will typically use all these.


Secondly, think of all the various ways in which these resources are wasted or inefficiently used in the course of a day.


Classic examples are dripping taps, lights left on for hours on end (even in the daytime), among others. In each of these cases, there is the inefficient use of resources in a manner that wastes rather than conserves resources for posterity.


A sustainable building would, on the other hand, employ the use of natural lighting in place of electricity to light—thus saving the energy required to power the lighting. It would go a step further in creating a high performing building envelope (walls, windows, floor, and roof) that reduces heat loss in cold weather or heat gain in hot weather. Which then means you don't need a lot of energy to heat or cool the indoor spaces to make them comfortable. Plus, self-closing or non-concussive taps which would automatically shut themselves after use and in the process conserve water.

When you blend these actions, you will ultimately build a sustainable home.


Sustainability in construction is not limited to these examples.

Rather it extends to other areas such as waste management within a building, the use of the free, clean energy from the sun to heat water through solar heaters and to generate power in the case of solar panels.


Indeed, the ways in which a building may be made sustainable are numerous but the core concept is the careful and prudent use of all resources in a building.


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