Green advice for building a new home

June 30, 2015

Building a new home is an exciting opportunity to design your ideal living environment. Whenever you can find ways to make your home more eco-friendly and energy efficient, it's a win–win for everyone.

Green advice for building a new home

Smart environmental building tips

Integrating environmental thinking into the design and construction of your new home will enable you to lead a greener life.

  • Work with your architect to use space efficiently. For example, minimize hallways in your design as they tend to be a waste of space.
  • Position so-called "wet areas" – the toilet, bathroom, laundry and kitchen – close to each other to minimize the length of water pipes required to reach each area. The longer the pipes, the more hot water goes cold sitting in them, the farther new hot water has to travel and the more water is wasted.
  • Group together rooms that you will need to heat or cool at the same time, such as living areas or bedrooms.
  • In cool climates, avoid making open-plan areas too large or they will be difficult to heat. Having doors between rooms means that they can be heated separately. Also, keep your ceilings lower than 2.7 metres (nine feet); any higher and it's difficult and expensive to warm the room.
  • In cold areas, include external rooms, such as porches and laundries. These will act as air locks, keeping cold air out of the main part of the house. In hot areas, create shaded outdoor living spaces.

Install now, save later

Planning ahead and incorporating environment-friendly technology into your new home will support a greener lifestyle once you move in, and it may save you money in the long run.

  • Insulate your house appropriately. Insulation is tremendously effective in controlling heat loss and gain. It's easy to install when building and much more difficult to add later.
  • If you are considering central heating, think about incorporating underfloor heating that uses hot-water pipes powered by solar heating and a gas back-up. It's economical and eco-friendly. Electric underfloor heating, in contrast, can result in high greenhouse emissions.
  • For water heating, opt for a solar or electric heat-pump system. These are by far the most efficient systems, and if you can absorb the moderately high purchase price in your building costs, you will reap the benefits later.
  • Consider installing grid-linked solar panels to generate electricity. Rebates may be available to reduce the initial cost. Combined with energy-efficiency measures, the panels can insulate you against rises in electricity tariffs. You might be able to feed surplus energy back into the grid, potentially eliminating power bills, and the system will likely add value to your home.
  • Look at incorporating a rainwater tank for watering the garden. A range of designs is available.
  • Talk to a plumber about installing a grey water diverter. This can divert waste water from your bath, shower or washing machine to a garden irrigation system. You might also be able to use your grey water for flushing toilets or washing clothes.
  • Make sure the plumbing fittings you choose are water-efficient and choose toilets with dual-flush cisterns. These items are compulsory in new homes in some areas.
  • Install your own energy-generating system. Depending on where you live, you may be able to sell surplus energy to the grid.
  • Ask your electrical contractor to install separate switches for every light bulb rather than a single switch for several bulbs, which wastes energy and money. In addition, plan from the start to use energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs.

Designing and building a new house is often a once-in-a-lifetime event, so why not take this opportunity to make your home the perfect place to lead an eco-friendly life!

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
Close menu