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Eco-friendly house design: 5 tips for building a sustainable home

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eco-friendly house design

Due to the impacts of the climate emergency, more and more people want to live in a property with an eco-friendly house design. These houses typically have a smaller carbon footprint and are less expensive to heat, cool, or power-up. Not only do they save money in the long run, but they also cause less harm to the environment.

In this article, we’ll explain the theories and concepts behind an eco-friendly house design. We’ll also share some useful tips and show you some cool examples of eco-friendly homes.

Let’s begin!

eco-friendly solar panels on roof

What is eco-friendly house design?

Eco-friendly house design means incorporating elements in a home that lessens its negative impact on the environment. You can achieve this by choosing sustainable building materials, adhering to ethical construction standards, and choosing architectural and design elements that conserve the earth’s resources.

Benefits of eco-friendly house design

Aside from reducing a household’s impact on the environment, here are some reasons you should consider an eco-friendly house design:

An eco-friendly building design saves money

It’s true that choosing an eco-friendly house design may cause you to spend more money upfront. You’ll need to choose fixtures with advanced energy or water conservation features, for example. You can also invest in your own self-sustaining water or energy source. 

But in the long run, you may also be able to get your investment back through the money you save from your energy and water bills. Just be sure to consult an expert on sustainable home design and ask about the return on your investment.

An eco-friendly building design adds value to your home

Houses with energy-saving and water-saving features are generally more attractive to buyers. That way, you may get better offers if you decide to sell your home in the future.

Tips for creating an eco-friendly house design

Eco-friendly house design covers everything from material selection to interior design.  Here are some ways you can have an eco-friendly home:

1. Use recycled and sustainable materials

An eco-friendly house design starts with using the right materials. Here are some ways you can incorporate sustainable materials into your home:

Walls

When it comes to choosing wall materials, you need to consider those that rate high in terms of durability and sustainability. It should also provide your home with proper insulation. Examples of these include:

  • Precast concrete slabs: Precast concrete is made in factories and then shipped on-site. Unlike traditional concrete, these slabs require less energy to produce and assemble. Precasting the concrete also allows it to cure in a dry and safe environment, making the material more structurally sound.
  • Reclaimed wood: Reclaimed wood refers to timber from salvaged shipping crates and pallets, demolished houses, and old barns. Reusing these materials lessens the need to cut down more trees for lumber. Just be sure that the wood is properly treated and reinforced before using it for construction.
  • Recycled steel: Just like wood, steel can be recycled and repurposed. Reusing steel lessens the need to mine, heat, and shape new materials for building. 
  • Rammed earth: Rammed earth refers to compacted chalk, gravel, or lime. When made correctly, rammed earth walls can have a similar feel as concrete. The image below is an example:
rammed earth walls for eco-friendly house design

Flooring

Coming up with an eco-friendly house design means being extra careful with the materials you choose, even when it comes to flooring. Here are some popular eco-friendly flooring options:

  • Engineered hardwood: Engineered hardwood is created by attaching a solid hardwood veneer to a plywood core. It’s more environmentally friendly compared to traditional hardwood because the production process doesn’t produce much waste. Plus, the plywood core is made from fast-growing trees.
  • Reclaimed hardwood: Reclaimed hardwood is another name for recycled wood. Basically, the supplier takes wood from existing homes and sends them to new homeowners to be reused.
  • Laminate: Laminate flooring is made from a core base layer, an image layer, and a transparent plastic wear layer. It’s an eco-friendly alternative to solid hardwood because it requires a smaller amount of timber to produce. Moreover, it’s more durable and affordable.
  • Concrete: Concrete flooring is extremely durable and appropriate for various home styles, especially industrial home design. It’s made from all-natural, easy-to-source materials, such as sand, clay, and rocks. It’s best for a minimalist industrial-style home, such as the one below:
concrete floor in living room

2. Install water-saving systems and fixtures

Eco-friendly water solutions keep water bills low and are also better for the environment. Here are some ways you can save on water:

  • Check your pipes: If you’re renovating an existing house, it’s wise to get your pipes inspected for any leaks and damages. This is a simple way to conserve water.
  • Pick low-flow taps, showers, and toilets: Water-saving plumbing fixtures help you conserve water. Some of these purposely reduce water pressure so that you no longer have to use more water than you need. Meanwhile, high-performance showerheads and high-efficiency toilets require less water to function.
  • Consider installing a water harvesting tank: While this tank cannot produce water for drinking, it can capture and filter out water that’s safe enough for doing the laundry and washing the car.
water tank in eco-friendly house design

3. Ensure that your property is properly insulated

Heating and cooling systems make up about 20% to 50% of the energy used in Australian households. So, minimising your need for air conditioning is one way to lower your property’s energy consumption. 

Still, this doesn’t mean that you have to bear the heat in the summer or shiver in cold during the winter. By properly insulating your property, you can stay comfortable without having to turn on your heating or cooling system for 24 hours.

Whether you’re renovating an existing home or building a new one, a skilled building designer can ensure that your property is well-insulated. They can create designs that maximise the flow of cool air during the summer and also retain heat during the winter.

4. Invest in energy-saving appliances and lighting fixtures

One simple way to have an eco-friendly home is by using energy-saving appliances and lighting fixtures. 

For example, the latest heating or cooling systems have smart thermostats that automatically turn the system off once your home reaches a comfortable temperature. They also track your consumption and suggest ways to reduce energy consumption.

Another way is by using energy-saving LED lights instead of fluorescent lamps and incandescent bulbs.

5. Consider installing solar panels

Installing solar panels is an eco-friendly way to provide your home with a sustainable source of energy. These panels produce power by capturing sunlight and then converting it to electricity. In case you want to go completely off-the-grid, you can also purchase solar batteries to store energy, so you can use solar power even at night or even during bad weather.

eco-friendly house design with solar panel

Eco-friendly house design styles

Even without investing in high-tech appliances or your own green energy supply, there are ways you can make your house more eco-friendly simply by picking the right architectural and interior design style. Here are some examples:

1. Prefabricated houses

Traditional homes are built on-site from the ground up. In comparison, prefabricated homes are structures that were built in factories and were delivered to the residential lot for installation. They’re much quicker to build and are often less expensive. Prefabricated building design styles range from small bungalows to multi-story homes.

Companies that specialise in building prefabricated homes can control how much waste they produce during the construction process. That makes prefab homes an eco-friendly option for those who are concerned about construction waste.

modern prefab home

2. Tiny homes

Tiny homes are similar to prefabricated houses in the sense that they’re built off-site. The main difference is that tiny houses are usually 250 square metres or less. 

The compact building design helps homeowners ensure that they have a smaller carbon footprint. They don’t have to have several lights on in the evening and they will need fewer appliances to cool down or heat up the structure.

Some tiny houses can be installed on a plot of land or they can become towable mobile homes. This option is great if you have a dynamic, nomadic lifestyle.

3. Passive houses

Passive design is a type of building design that aims to create net-zero homes. This means that the home must be able to supply its own energy instead of relying on the power grid. Passive houses usually have excellent insulation and have doors and windows that are designed to retain heat and cold air.

4. Earth-sheltered homes

Earth-covered or earth-sheltered homes refer to underground dwellings with doors and windows that protrude to the surface. Since the house is buried underground, it’s virtually soundproof and easy to heat and cool.

eco-friendly house design - earth-sheltered house

5. LEED-certified homes

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) homes are certified to use less energy and fewer resources. They’re also designed to let fresh air indoors and also reduce water and energy consumption.

LEED-certified homes

6. Shipping container homes

Shipping container homes allow people to breathe new life into old shipping containers instead of discarding them and adding waste. Just be sure to invest in insulating your shipping container home, so that it stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Talk to an expert on eco-friendly house design

Eco-friendly house design is more than just a passing trend – it's the future. You can build an eco-friendly home from the ground up or you can also renovate and modernise your existing home to make it more sustainable and energy-efficient. Whichever you prefer, Superdraft can help!

Using our platform, you can find skilled building designers, structural engineers, and draftsmen who can create eco-friendly home designs. We’ll also help you visualise your design using 3D technology. Sign up for our now and start building your own eco-friendly home! 

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