Sustainable Home Features for an Eco-Friendly Abode
Sustainable living has only grown more popular in the past several years, with a greater focus being placed on eco-conscious housing options than traditional homes. With 30 LEED certified buildings and 50 Registered LEED Municipal Projects, Austin is undoubtedly a city committed to sustainable building. When planning your move into a sustainable home, there are a few things you’ll want to consider.
Lot and Orientation. When deciding where to build a sustainable home, it’s imperative to take into consideration the location of the lot. Choose a lot that will support solar or geothermal energy and has easily accessible water for a garden. If the area has community transportation systems that will allow you to cut back on gas usage, that can be a huge plus.
Orientation. It’s often suggested that sustainable homes have a length that runs East West and windows based on climate. If you live in a cooler climate, consider adding larger windows along the south side of the home to let a greater amount of sunlight in for heating. Adding windows on the north side of a home will allow for maximum natural light without brutal sunlight overheating the house.
Size of the Home. Compact homes tend to be more energy efficient than larger homes. This doesn’t mean you need to build a tiny home, but individuals looking to build a sustainable home should consider the benefits of building a smaller abode: Fewer materials used in building, less energy to regulate temperature and a (literally) smaller ecological footprint.
Locally-Sourced Materials. By using locally-sourced materials, you’ll effectively cut down on transportation distances and therefore lower greenhouse gas emissions. While recycled materials are commonly used in sustainable buildings, regional materials—especially heavy materials like brick and cement—should be integrated where they can to keep transportation distances short.
LED Lights. Not only are LED lightbulbs becoming a staple in the auto and commercial real estate industries, but they’re growing in popularity at home as well. Switching to these energy-saving lights can both cut the cost of your monthly bills and also reduce C02 emissions. LED lights consume 80% less energy than halogen, incandescent and fluorescent alternatives making them an easy update to make in lieu of traditional bulbs.
Vertical Gardens. If you’ve ever been to the Whole Foods flagship store in Austin, you may recall the massive vertical garden that towers over the escalators near checkout. These green displays are not only chic and aesthetically pleasing, but can also help offset your carbon footprint by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. Additional benefits also include the ability to clean the air of your home and cut back on pollutants and dust.
A Compost Pile. While composting has been around for ages, it has become even more commonplace in traditional households over the past 10 years. Composting allows you to recycle kitchen waste and reduce landfill waste, introduce valuable microorganisms to the soil and promotes the growth of healthy plants while reducing pests in your backyard.
Solar Panels. Solar energy is a renewable energy source, offering countless benefits to homeowners looking to live more sustainably. It can help reduce energy bills, keep home maintenance costs low and ensure that the source of your home’s energy will last for years on end (the average warranty for solar panels is 25 years.)