Sustainable From the Ground Up: Eco-friendly Home Ideas
Why build sustainably?
The journey to a lower carbon footprint has many paths. You could reevaluate your energy solution and use a microgeneration system, or you could go big and reevaluate your entire house.
Today, we are going to look at some of the most sustainable home design trends. These homes focus on using recycled materials and being as energy efficient as possible so they can have the smallest impact on our planet.
We’ll start off with the Passive House.
Conservation House in Regina, SK. Source
Passive Homes are probably the most “normal” buildings on this list because from the outside and inside, they usually look very similar to a regular home, but it is underneath the skin where these homes really shine.
A Passive House is airtight and insulated to a far more extreme level than a regular home built to standard code. This results is a home that uses as little as 10% of the energy a traditional home would for its heating and cooling.
And, like our turbines, the first one was built right here in Canada!
Conservation house was built in Regina in 1977 by Harold Orr. The house featured an air-tight design, superior insulation, and a heat-recovery ventilation system. You can learn more about it here.
Shipping Container Home
This next trend takes the recycling aspect to the extreme.
Shipping container homes are exactly what they sound like, a home built out of out-of-service shipping containers. These homes are modular in nature so you can build it with as many, or as few containers as you want.
And, not only would you be keeping some containers out of a scrapyard, you will also save on buying traditional building materials like wood or brick.
However, this style of home is not well suited to cold climates due to the additional insulation required that would end up taking away a lot of living space inside.
Like a shipping container home, this style has a pretty self-explanatory name. A straw-bale home is a house constructed using, you guessed it, straw-bales.
Now, this may sound crazy and like you’re building a tinder box, but actually, straw-bale homes are more flame retardant than a traditional timber-frame home.
And, straw is an excellent insulator that has a fraction of the environmental impact that fiberglass insulation has, especially if you can source it locally.
However, this construction method doesn’t come without its drawbacks. And a big one is moisture. If any of the bales get wet during construction, or some water manages to get into the walls after completion, you will have a big mold problem on your hands. This disadvantage means straw-bale homes are not the best choice for areas that receive a lot of rainfall or have high humidity.
If you want to learn more about straw-bale construction and its pros and cons check out this article!
Earthships are probably the most extreme form of home you can build if lowering your environmental impact is your main goal. The concept was invented in the 1970’s in New Mexico and has since spread worldwide.
An Earthship has one objective: Self-sufficiency. To achieve this, Earthships use the principals of solar-heating, thermal-mass, and passive cooling to ensure a comfortable environment inside with minimal additional heating and cooling energy.
One drawback of using a lot of thermal mass and passive heating/cooling is that in colder climates the ground is not a high enough temperature to maintain comfortable living conditions. This makes the Earthship design much more suited to temperate climates where there is low temperature variability.
So, if you are in Canada, this design would need some serious alterations to make it work.
If you are building a house consider some of the above concepts when you are designing it. They can help you save on your electricity bills and lower your carbon footprint (just like a microgeneration wind turbine!).
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article, check out this one on Microgeneration! And, if you want to lower your electricity costs without building a new house, check out our microgeneration wind turbine, the Anorra.