Building an eco-friendly home is one of the most effective ways in which one can make a personal contribution to keeping carbon footprint low. A well-planned green home cuts down on electricity and water bills, boosts green spaces in and around the house, relies on renewable energy and keep waste to a minimum. Now imagine if every household practiced such green measures.
With enough green homes, issues like power cuts, waste management, rising temperatures and waste water can be managed to a great extent, if not entirely solved.
Image source: Knut-Erik Helle
How does one build a green home? Many aspiring homeowners are stumped by this simple question—what are the factors to consider, what to include and how to go about making these changes. From water management to sustainable interiors, here’s an eight-step guide to turning your dream home into a green, self-contained living space.
Set up a waste water management system
A DIY greywater recycling unit set up by Ashwin Subramanian and Preethy Iyer
Managing greywater recycling at home can take some amount of planning but it can make a tremendous difference to the amount of water used in a household. It is feasible to consider setting up proper water management systems at the very start of your building process.
Take for instance, Bengaluru-resident Vinodkumar Saxena who planned his house to ensure that greywater seeps out through one source into a collection and recycling unit. Apartment buildings that don’t have greywater management systems can also try the the reed bed system of botanical wastewater management.
You can also build you own recycling unit too. Take your cues from this DIY greywater recycling unit set up Bengaluru couple, Ashwin Subramanian and Preethy Iyer.
Rainwater harvesting will boost your water conservation plans
In times of grave water crises, it’s more important than ever to conserve this precious resource. Rainwater harvesting is an efficient way to recharge ground water and can be implemented in various ways, from DIY rain collection barrels to underground storage units.
Rainwater harvesting also helps to set up provisions for collecting and transmitting the water, right when you are building your home. Click here to know more about setting up a DIY harvesting unit in your home and ideas on how to make such units yourself.
Don’t fell trees. Build your homes around them.
Image source: Pinterest
Bengaluru-based architect Ganesh Kumar who has led many a green building project says, “If I see a tree in the building site, I try to work around it instead of cutting it down.” We keep hearing stories of countless trees being axed to make way for infrastructural development, but trees are also felled for household needs.
In a heartening change, many apartment buildings now come nestled amongst trees. Independent homeowners can speak to their architect/builder about retaining and building around big trees in your plot. Not only will you save a tree or two, but also find yourself in a uniquely designed home.
Take the solar plunge
Image source: Magda Wojtyra/Flickr
Powering homes with solar energy does the dual trick of utilizing power resources sustainably while bringing down your electricity bills. Installing solar panels has proven successful for homeowners as well as bigger enterprises; it’s hardly surprising than that Indians are increasingly making the solar switch.
As the prices of solar fixtures fall and their takers rise, a number of organisations are enabling people to install solar panels efficiently in their homes.
Conscious lighting choices & electrical fixtures
While the benefit of solar power on electricity bills is evident, managing electric fixtures and making conscious choices in lighting and electronic devices can further the positive impact. LED lighting, or even solar-powered lighting, is more energy efficient. Look for cost-effective fans and electronic appliances and maintain them with care.
It is also important to ensure that your building plan takes adequate natural lighting into account. A lot of electrical power is wasted away in keeping inadequately-lit rooms illuminated through daytime.
You might also like: Learn the Art of Composting in Your Home & Watch Your Kitchen Waste Turn to Wealth
Keep a tab on waste management
In a world of increasing landfills and mounting trash, waste management, like charity, begins at home. Make provisions to segregate your wet waste from dry waste and sanitary waste, disposing each section carefully. Separate your bins and instruct your household staff to segregate waste. Also check where your waste is going—it takes one conversation with your local waste management worker to find out.
Switching to sustainable sanitary products can eliminate this segment of waste entirely, but otherwise careful segregation makes sure that the waste management workers are not jeopardised due to contact with sanitary waste.
Make room for a spot of greenery
Greenery can make a world of difference in a home, particularly during the months of summer. From terrace gardens to indoor plants and vertical gardens, there are many ways to transform limited spaces into lush patches of green. For urban homes that don’t have the luxury of a terrace, vertical gardens, window sill greenery and indoor plants are great alternatives.
A number of initiatives have now emerged, offering gardening kits and services to urban dwellers. Ugaoo is one such online platform, which stocks a range of seeds, planters and gardening accessories. Keeping in account constraints of time and space, you will also find options like grow bags and self-watering planters here.
While you are putting together your garden, also collect the dry leaves and floral waste for mulching. Composting is a great way to use up the wet waste from your kitchen will yield organic manure for the garden too.
Consider sustainable materials for your interiors
Eschew conventional flooring for sustainable materials—cork (yes, cork) makes for excellent, eco-friendly floors. A renewable source, it is cost-effective too and also inherently built to ward off insects and pests. You can also opt for materials like bamboo, lineoleum, red oxide and even reclaimed wood to use on your floors.
Invest in toxin-free paints and take your pick of decorative and utilitarian items from eco-friendly materials and local artisans (it will also support their business). Think recycled upholstery and furnishings, woven baskets as storage units, reclaimed wooden or bamboo furniture and handicrafts decorative.