There is much that we can do to reduce the environmental impact our homes have: we can recycle, reduce and reuse. We can conserve water and install rainwater harvesting systems. On a day to day basis, we can reduce waste and improve waste management and pollution and prevent environmental degradation.
We can also ensure that green architectural design dovetails with local conditions and weather. Using eco friendly building materials for the home is another measure that makes a very significant difference:
1. Eco friendly lumber
Use wood that has been sourced responsibly, and while replenishing all that is being cut down and wood that is not sourced from endangered forests and eco systems.
2. Renewable materials
Bamboo is a quick growing wood that is sustainable and renewable and is surprisingly flexible, useable for the building as well as furniture in it. Straw bales are now increasingly being used in buildings and they are much stronger than you may think!
3. Non toxic products
Natural products such as rammed earth, clay, flax linen, adobe, baked earth, compressed earth block, paper flake panels, calcium sand stone are great to use. Also look for non toxic low VOC products (paints, glues and so on) for painting and finishing the home.
4. Repurposed or recycled materials
Recycled steel sourced from industrial waste and other building sites is become very popular these days. Similarly using recycled wood, repurposed stone and plastic composite lumber (made from waste wood fibers and plastics) can be a good idea.
5. Local building materials
Stone and rock quarried and obtained locally, wood repurposed from buildings demolished close by are also considered eco friendly building materials because they encourage local industry and obviate the need to transport raw materials over long distances.
6. Proper insulation
Proper home insulation is vitally important for reducing energy consumption for heating and cooling on a day to day basis. Using materials for triple glazing and creating walls that retain heat and cold can help insulate the home against the elements.
7. Solar panels and wind turbines
Installing solar panels or windmills can help reduce your reliance on the grid and will also bring down your electricity bills.
8. Cool roofing or passive solar design
Using cool colors for the roof or top of the building helps the building remain cooler during the day, so that less energy needs to be expended in cooling it. Building and masonry materials with high thermal mass can also help lower building temperatures. This is particularly important in warmer climates.