Building a green, eco-friendly home is a smart idea on so many levels. Your home will not only look great; it will be kinder to the environment and more cost-efficient to run too! Here, we’ll outline the important elements of a green home design, the most popular eco-friendly building materials to use, and feature some carbon-neutral products that are available in the Australian marketplace. This way, you have a guide to help you go green when planning your home’s architecture and interior design.
Components of a green home design
Professionals in the design and construction industry define a green building as a structure that is designed, constructed, and operates in a way that:
- Has very little to zero negative impacts on the environment, and
- Has a positive impact on its surroundings
If you are planning to live in a green building, consider working with construction professionals who know what it takes to design and build one.
Here are the components of a green home and what they mean:
- Energy-efficiency – Decrease your home’s energy consumption through proper structure orientation, making use of double or triple-glazed glass windows. Energy-efficient homes also take advantage of daylighting and natural ventilation. Read more about designing and building energy-efficient homes here.
- Renewable energy – Cut the cost of your power bills when you make use of renewable energy sources. In Australia, you can power your homes using solar panels and wind turbines.
- Water-efficiency – Save water by using rainwater tanks and reduce water usage by using fixtures and appliances with high WELS ratings.
- Eco-friendly or environmentally preferred building materials – Choose products that are sourced, manufactured, transported, and used in an ethical and sustainable way. Check out these 11 green building materials.
- Waste reduction – Opt for materials and methods that produce very little waste to avoid contributing to pollution.
- Toxic reduction – Protect your family’s health and wellness when you avoid using products exposed to hazardous chemicals like mercury, lead, asbestos, etc.
- Improved indoor air quality – Reduce the number of impurities and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air you breathe inside your home to avoid health issues. Proper ventilation of the house and use of building materials that do not emit VOCs is the key to achieve this.
- Smart growth and sustainable development – Embrace a sustainable and environmentally-conscious lifestyle when you live in a green home. Adopt green practices such as waste segregation, building green roofs, recycling, and more.
List of environmentally-friendly building materials
Choosing the building materials for your project is as important as planning the design and the construction methods to be used in your project. This will be the basis of all your eco-building efforts.
Here are six of the main eco-friendly building materials used in Australia.
- Rammed earth
- Sustainably grown and sourced local timber / recycled timber
- Straw bales
- Mud or clay bricks
- Terracotta cladding
- Concrete, ideally used in conjunction with other environmentally-friendly materials in order to reduce your home’s carbon footprint.
Carbon-neutral or green building materials from well known Australian brands
Constructing the building envelope with eco-friendly materials is one thing, furnishing the home with green products is another. Here are some carbon-neutral or eco-friendly products to consider:
Brickworks’ Austral Bricks
The company has a mission to reduce its energy consumption, environmental footprint and operating costs by moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. They established manufacturing sites in every capital city, which created local employment and confidence around supply.
They recently obtained a second Climate Active carbon-neutral license and are the only brick and paver manufacturer in the Australian market offering carbon-neutral products.
EnvirO₂ is the famous brand’s low odour and low VOC paint which earned its GreenTag™ certifications and consumer tick of approval. The GreenTag™ mark is given to green building products available in Australia and New Zealand.
All of Meir’s products from tapware, showerheads, and bath fillers are water-efficient and have gained the highest WELS star ratings when compared against the competitors. Meir products are WELS rated and WaterMark certified, meaning the products meet and exceed Australian standards on water efficiency and conservation.
Most of Handkrafted’s products are crafted by makers who use reclaimed timbers or predominantly Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) timbers. There's very little waste as everything is made to order and not large-scale manufactured. Many of their makers also use natural oils, such as a product called Osmo, for finishing their works, in place of toxic varnishes.
Knotwood is committed to making products that are cleaner, safer and better for the environment. They have invested in a chromate-free wash system, filters and chemical tanks that neutralise acids, allowing for safe water management.
They strictly use VOC or volatile organic compound free powder and film. They have a powder reclamation system in place to minimise waste. Any powder waste that is collected during the application process is recycled and reused.
Their aluminium is 100% recyclable. It can be recycled over and over again without any loss of quality. Knotwood is committed to reducing its environmental impact by continuing to develop and implement effective green practices and procedures.
For some more specific green statistics, read this part of their website.
Most of Tiento’s ceramic and porcelain tiles are produced in closed cycle factories, compliant with the highest standards for environmental quality and production processes. Porcelain tiles are some of the most durable tiles you can use. They also do not require constant care and treatment as natural timber and stones do.
Tiento’s manufacturers have the following certifications:
- Ecolabel environmental quality mark – only given to tile manufacturers that comply with both environmental requirements as well as the rational use of energy and natural resources.
- Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certified – only given to brands that comply with environmental standards and promote the reduction of environmental impacts due to the quarrying and processing of raw materials.
Many Halcyon Lakes rugs and carpets are sustainably produced. They use natural materials wherever possible, especially pure wool – it is a highly sustainable and durable material.
Halcyon’s hand-woven textured rug collection called Respect is worth checking out. It is the first hand-woven, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified collection in the world. This is made to the highest standards, the materials coming from Wool Integrity certified farms in New Zealand.
Highlights of Halcyon Lake’s Respect collection:
- Made from certified organic sheep farms with certified organic animal husbandry
- Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified scouring
- GOTS certified dyeing with natural vegetable dyes
- At least 99.3 % of the raw materials in the finished product are from certified organic animal husbandry or certified organic farming sources
- An uninterrupted audit trail for all raw materials and production stages
- Compliance with higher standards of social responsibility
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.
Linwood has a range of sustainable fabrics that are both beautiful and eco-friendly. They have recently launched their Verde collection of fabrics. Utilising offcuts from the fashion industry, this range is woven from 80% recycled cotton, is chemical free and is available in 46 stunning colours. Although wonderfully soft, it is highly durable fabric, ideal for curtains, loose covers and upholstery. It can even be washed at 30º with no shrinkage, making it easy to maintain.
There is an increasing number of environmentally conscious homeowners across the country and they are dreaming of living in homes that are friendly to the earth and super comfortable to live in.
If you are looking into building an eco-friendly home for you and your family, consider engaging Superdraft’s services. We have highly knowledgeable professionals who are experts on sustainable and eco-friendly projects, plus partner brands who can help you complete your green home design.