Tag Archives: eco-friendly house

Environmentally Friendly Construction Materials

The use of environment-friendly construction materials is becoming more popular these days. Partly, because of the louder calls for sustainable living; and largely, because of the immediate need to improve earth’s health. The acceleration of environmental problems such as resource depletion and climate change has strong association with the real estate industry – specifically with new construction.

If you are buying a new home, you could already be thinking of purchasing one that is more conscious of the environment. Here are some of the construction materials that befriend nature, deserving your attention of probable choices for the house you are going to buy.

Lime

This material has been used in buildings since the ancient times probably dating back to some 5000 years ago. Evidences point to its usage because of its resilient, durable, and water resistant properties. Contrary to modern coatings, lime in its original state which is calcium carbonate, has the ability to release the moisture from the surfaces – rather than trap it. This material has been rediscovered by construction engineers and applied today as one of the eco-friendly materials in green home sand buildings.

Cob or Mud

Have you ever read history books with sections dealing with houses made of mud or clay? These houses are called cob homes. Many of them are located in Asia and in some parts of Africa and Europe. Cob made use of clay-based soil, water and straw – mixing them together until desired thickness and ladling them into the stone foundation trodding them into place. Modern construction got inspiration from this and basically employs the same materials and principles. But with the use of mud loaves, the cob can get thicker to up to 300 to 500 mm. Rubble trenches, earth bags, and rammed tyres can be used as cheap foundations.

Flax and hemp

These materials are eyed as natural alternatives to expensive insulation materials like fiberglass, mineral wool, and multi-foils. Flax and hemp are natural plant fibers which are made available to the construction industry in batts and rolls. These plant fibers contain borates which have fungi and pest-killing properties along with its fire-retardant capabilities. To bind them together, starch is added. The eco-friendly property of these materials relies on their low embodied energy.

These are just some of the environment-friendly materials which you may want to consider for use on your new construction house. For other eco-friendly construction materials, you can talk to your local real estate agent who has the freshest information about green building and green real estate.

Microfiber Cleaning Cloth – An Environmentally Friendly Way to Clean Your House

Most of us never realise that our homes are extremely polluted, and it is we who pollute them. It is the trivial routine choices that we make which a go a long way in keeping a home healthy and safe. Our choice of washing liquids is one of them. It is worthwhile to switch to tile cleaners as the normal traditional cleaners release harmful and toxic chemical compounds into the air and it is this air that you and your family is going to inhale.

However, just switching to a healthier and more eco friendly cleaner does not ensure that your home will be less polluted. There are a bunch of tips that you must follow to make your home pollution free. You must try and use as little of the cleaning substance as is possible. Even the best of such products do pollute the environment, even though the extent of damage might be very less. Also, they utilise a lot of natural resources in their manufacture and packaging. And they don’t come cheap either, so using them in small quantity is going to go well with your pocket too.

One of the simplest ways to switch to a more eco friendly and less expensive cleaning schedule is by using microfiber cloths. Normally used to clean lenses and electronics, they are not easily available in stores. But if you can get hold of them, they are an excellent investment. They have many advantages over normal cleaning equipment. The two major ones being that they don’t need any soap or detergent, just water can be used to clean things with these cloths. Secondly, they last for as long as a few months, sometimes even years.

Their intricate woven structure is designed in a manner that the small nodules are spread all over the surface of the material to be cleaned. This structure closely resembles that of soap lather, which is why these cloths can clean filth and grime just with water. Generally, solid surfaces can be cleaned without using a cleaner, but if something is extremely dirty or if you want it to be antiseptically clean, you can use a little mild cleaning substance. It might not make a lot of difference, but psychologically it will make you feel more comfortable and safe.

The best part about them is that their inbuilt structure ensures that they last for a long period of time. It makes more sense economically to buy a few of these and be relieved for months together. Then you don’t have to bother about getting towels, sponges and other cleaning cloths. If the microfiber cloth become dirty, all you have to do is wash itin a washing machine.

It’s high time that you give up your sponges and dusters and switch to eco friendly and convenient to use microfiber cloths.

Eco Friendly Property in Spain

“Go Green” – “ECO friendly” – “save the planet” – “Global Warming”. All words we are very familiar with unless you have lived on the moon for the past 5 years or so. Now everyone is jumping on the bandwagon and offering green products and services. But how green are they and is it just a token gesture to be popular? We have been researching the possibilities of building eco friendly and economical green villas in Spain after I inadvertently made the mistake of asking my wife how she would like her new house built. “Eco friendly” she replied.

Those two words began a journey of thousands of miles across Europe and countless hours researching the web to find out how “eco friendly” I could build her dream home. Initially I found that an eco friendly home was just a cave house…I didn’t fancy living in or building a cave house, or they had thicker lagging on pipes or they offered solar water heaters…BIG DEAL, I expected that as standard, in fact it is law in Spain now to have alternative water heating supply, one company even classed a home as eco friendly because the heating had a thermostat.

Two years later and after securing the sole rights to build with a German quality ICF system we are beginning our first two new eco friendly villas in Spain for clients and have several scheduled to begin next year. The interest has been amazing; unfortunately this means my wife’s dream home has been put on hold for a while but our business and our attitude to all things green is being transformed. We are offering geothermal heating systems, solar power, grey water systems, water saving systems inside and outside the home, wind turbines, appliance advice, lighting systems I never knew existed and even waterless toilets (the jury is still out on that one with me) all this to make our eco friendly villas in Spain as economically friendly as we can. The fantastic thing about the Eco friendly build systems is the speed and insulating values they offer. A traditional styled villa of a 100m2 villa can be erected within 10 days! Saving weeks of labour charges thus bringing the cost of these new eco friendly properties on par or even cheaper than traditional block and beam villas. The insulation values are amazing and they even have fantastic sound insulation (great if you have noisy teenagers like us).

When we first introduced this system to an architect he looked blankly at the proposal and smiled that smile you see in Spain when you know they think you are mad and after experiencing this manic suppressed grin over a lengthy period of time with a lot of old – maybe not old but my age – OK old Architects! We finally came across a young enthusiastic architect who believed and embraced the system as we did. We drew up a set of plans and submitted them to the local town hall and put the project forward to the bank for a valuation. The town hall was thrilled with the idea and the bank valued the project over 40% higher than we charged the client! Now this could have a lot to do with the fact that we are inexpensive builders but the manager did tell us they are valuing homes with eco friendly factors higher than traditional homes.

House Moving, the Environmentally Friendly Way

House moving may not always be the most eco-friendly affair. Moving out of a home requires a significant amount of resources, supplies and not to mention, time. If we are not careful, the entire process can leave a huge mess of non-recyclable material (particularly if you have a habit of storing non-essentials in the house) and generate harmful emissions, all of which is not environmentally friendly. Fortunately with a little effort and planning, even when moving, we can still do our part to save the earth. If you’re planning to relocate soon, here are some tips to help minimize the eco-damage associated with moving.

Plan For a Single Trip

Automobiles release a large amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and a moving truck contributes to these emissions. It gets worse if you have to make multiple trips when relocating. You can minimize these emissions by planning for a single trip and one of the ways to do this is to rent a large-enough vehicle. A smaller vehicle may have to do several trips and that would contribute a large amount of emissions. Look for a vehicle that will fit everything you need to move so that you only make one trip.

Donate or Sell What You Don’t Need

Bulky items such as furniture and old electronics you don’t want anymore only add weight and take up space in the moving truck. The heavier the truck is the more emissions it releases and the more fuel it uses. Hence, you may instead wish to donate some of these items or get rid of them in a garage sale. Alternatively, you can also sell them online. Sites like eBay are great for this purpose.

By selling or donating your unwanted items, you will free up more space in the truck and also minimize fuel consumption. The unwanted items will also be put into good use in another home rather than wastefully dumped.

Use Green, Biodegradable and Recycled Packing Supplies

Not all packing supplies are recyclable. Hence to move the eco-friendly way, make an effort to use green moving supplies where possible.

Rather than using new cardboard boxes, use recycled ones. Instead of Styrofoam peanuts, lay your hands on green packing peanuts and don’t forget to choose biodegradable packing tape. But don’t stop here. You may also consider using old newspapers or linen to wrap up delicate items or use packaging from old purchases. Doing so will have an added benefit of helping you minimize moving costs. In addition, non-disposable containers are terrific when used for a green move; instead of using just traditional cardboard moving boxes, try using plastic containers, clean trash cans and plastic bins.

Packing Breakables For a Move

Instead of bubble wrap, shredded newspaper and linen can be used as an alternative to wrap breakables and paintings. Just wrap your fragile items with linen or newspaper, tape it down with green packing tape and you’ll save a ton on bubble wrap. More importantly, you won’t have to throw anything away when you get to your new home. It’s a simple solution that works for your benefit and for the environment.

Hire a green moving company

Lots of moving companies advertise green business practices and they make excellent contractors for an eco-friendly move. Some green movers use low-emission vehicles and recycled supplies which help cut down on toxic emissions while other movers power their offices using renewable energy. Green companies make it a point to reduce the effects of toxic waste and facilitate house moving the eco-friendly way.

Other Little Things to Consider

If you are cleaning up the old place after the move, use environmentally friendly cleaning products or insist that your hire cleaners use them.

In you new home, find all opportunities to install and use only energy saving gadgets. For example, use LED lighting instead of incandescent bulbs or dc motor energy saving ceiling fans instead of the traditional ac motor powered ones. Above all, get rid of the habit of buying things on impulse only to dump them a few years later.

Do the above and you would have done your part in ensuring that your house moving process is as eco-friendly as possible.

Tips for Making Your Neighborhood More Eco-Friendly

It’s not just your house that you should be concerned enough to turning green. After exerting efforts to make your place as sustainable and as eco-friendly as possible, why don’t you do homework together with your neighbors and turn your neighborhood into one that is eco-friendly too. Here are some tips.

Sharing garden space. Why would I share my garden with my neighbors? There are various benefits you can get from this act. First, your unused garden can be a space that supports plant and flower life. It can be turned into one that yields fruits and vegetables. There are organizations that are willing to give seeds in return of the favor of using your garden for their activities.

Establishing neighborhood cooperatives. A lot of success stories have been told about the establishment of neighborhood cooperatives. These can range from types that support the collection of recyclable wastes from the neighborhood and turning them over to larger recycling facilities in exchange for cash. The recyclers can often drop by at your designated place in specific intervals to pick up what you have collected. This is an efficient way of teaching your neighbors the importance of solid waste reduction.

Neighborhood coops can also be the types that produce processed or bottled foods, baked goodies, and other small scale profitable ventures.

Encourage the holding of swap days. It takes a lot of energy to make new things. It will also involve raw materials which are mainly coming from nature to make some of the thing you usually like. Taking inspiration from the old barter system of our ancestors, why don’t you initiate the staging of swap days among your neighbors every weekend.

This is a great opportunity not only to score the stuff you like but to also make friends with your neighbors. It will strengthen cooperation among neighbors while allowing each and everyone in your community to partake in conservation efforts.

If you’re good at baking, why not bring in some of your goodies. Who knows you can exchange it for a vase that is very fit for your center table. There are a lot of possible trades that can happen. You can even make it a swap party anchored with a weekly theme so things for swaps will have some variety.

Making your neighborhood an eco-friendly one can also be a goal towards developing a place that is harmonious and where people are always willing to exert an extra dose of helpfulness.

For other real estate concerns, your local real estate agent is just a call away. He or she has expert advises that can be helpful in owning an eco-friendly house.

A Green Home Buyer’s Guide On Choosing An Eco-Friendly Home

Eco-friendly living is the way forward, and it is currently the best time for you to follow this trend. So go ahead and own a green abode that reflects your personality. Below, are a few points that you should consider on your pursuit to acquiring a green home.

Building A Home Vs. Buying One: How Do They Compare?

Every house is energy efficient and eco-friendly one way or the other, which usually saves a considerable amount of money. But buying a home does not give you the freedom to use your own ideas on the house from the ground up, as opposed to building a house according to your plan.

Renovation Can Do The Trick

If you have a non eco-friendly house and you want to convert it into an eco-friendly unit, you can spend money on modifying the house based on your ideas. For instance, you could replace an old light bulb with the latest LED ones, which are proven to consume less energy. Note that reworking on your house could cost a significant hole in your bank account, but in the long run, it is definitely worth it.

Other Important Priorities

Living green will likely be next to impossible, if you are on a budget and looking to stay close to popular hubs. The same could be said, if you want to have restaurants and other recreational facilities around your neighbourhood.

Be Ready To Relocate If Necessary

Is living in an eco-friendly house a top priority for you? If the answer is yes, then you need to consider relocating to a location where it is possible, I.e, a place where there’s plenty of sunlight and a place that suits your budget. But most times, this would mean that you would have to relocate to another region. You would have to settle in an entirely new location, where you will need start all over again, which is a bad idea if you are not looking forward to change.

Get Hold Of A Green Agent

Now that green living is becoming more and more popular, there is a rise in the number of real estate agents specialising in the scouting process of such houses. Get in touch with one of them to get a tour of affordable alternatives that are available.

Although eco-friendly living is a great step towards a self-sustaining life, it also requires you to invest a lot of time, effort, and money that is usually not a sound alternative for working-class families. You should go for this lifestyle, only if you are absolutely sure it is a serious decision, and not just a hobby.

Passive Houses, the Best Eco-friendly Homes

With ever-increasing population, coupled with the continued world appetite for more energy, there is a global demand for energy-efficient homes. In response, architects all over the world are designing more sustainable homes that use better insulation and high-efficiency appliances. These designers are also incorporating in their buildings, the use of new sources of power, such as solar panels and wind turbines, which are the icons of the green building. In such a quest for the best eco-friendly homes, passive houses were born.

Passive houses were started in a small town in Germany outside of Frankfurt. The objective of a passive house is to create a warm and comfortable house without energy demand. The goal is accomplished by recycling heating.

Surprisingly, many people in North America are not familiar with them even though they are gaining a lot of following in European countries. As it incredible as it may sound, they use 90% less energy than a traditional house We are talking about paying only 10% of the energy bill that a traditional home is paying.

Just as North America is lagging behind China and some European and Asian countries in internet broad band use, it has yet to wake up to the tremendous energy savings that these inventive homes are providing. The Passivhaus Standard as it is known is much firmer than the Energy Star that many in North America consider as adequate environmental barometer.

Even as President Barack Obama is already being considered as the environmental President by many for his bold initiatives to transform the U.S. as the undisputed leader in the new and growing green economy, many in Europe are way ahead of the curve on passive homes. While the Obama government is poised to overhauling 75% of federal buildings in an effort to save $2 billion through energy efficiency alone, and the funding of green schools, passive homes are little unknown here.

Best green homes:

Passive houses use only 10% of energy used by conventional homes of comparable size. They use “recycled heat” generated inside the house to heat the home itself. By incorporating ultra-thick insulation and re-engineered doors and windows, the house is sealed so that no heat gets out and no cold air sips in. They are extremely energy efficient houses that don’t need an extensive heating or cooling system like geothermal heating system or heating boiler.

The house is heated by the sun, but also from the heat from the residents and even appliances in conjunction with an air-heat exchange system to provide fresh air and recycle the heat of outgoing air. In the winter, only a back-up heating element of 1kW maximum is recommended. The heating requirements for the U.S. is less or equal to 15kW/sq m. To make sure that a house meets the energy performance standard for passive houses, it is tested with ‘blowerdoor’ and thermal infrared camera.It is important to note that the building principles used in building passive houses can be transferred to new buildings and retrofits.

There are now an estimated 15,000 passive houses worldwide, most of them being built recently and mostly in Europe. What is holding the U.S back from this all important leadership role in the green economy?

3 Reasons to Invest in Eco Friendly Properties

Rewarding yourself with a new house? Why not go green and eco-friendly? It has plenty of benefits, 3 of which are discussed below.

Eco-friendly homes use natural materials during construction

There are many choices of eco-friendly construction materials. They range from recycled wood, half-raw and half-recycled, and those made from dirt, straw, and clay. According to experts, materials of these made contribute less to the greenhouse effect. They trap less of harmful gases while allowing for a freer entry of natural light and air in and out of the house.

Overall, environment-friendly homes are known to exhibit better indoor environment quality. Improved lighting conditions, better air quality, and natural thermal conditions are some of the natural benefits one can get when buying eco-homes.

Eco-friendly homes are also health-friendly

The natural materials used in eco-homes are also health-friendly. This is very beneficial to individuals with health conditions like asthma and other respiratory problems. There have been several studies linking the use of eco-friendly materials in home construction. Significant changes on health conditions were exhibited by individuals who are known asthma patients.

Further studies revealed that the more natural materials used in them help facilitate the flow of cleaner air inside homes. They are also less likely to contain plastic by-products which release toxic substances. These substances are generally linked to carcinogens or substances that contribute to the development of cancer cells.

These days, developers are more aware of the health consequences of the materials they are using when constructing properties. Home buyers just need the proper information to educate or at least warn them that eco-friendly homes are by far among the best choices when health conditions are considered.

Environment-friendly homes are energy-efficient

Today’s thrust in construction of properties gives focus on energy-efficiency. It is a known fact that the earth’s natural resources, from which man depends for water and energy, are becoming fastly depleted. In order to contribute to conservation efforts, eco-friendly houses are designed such that they would not largely depend on non-renewable energy sources.

It is now common to see houses being put on sale that are designed with solar panels. With these, energy consumption is likely reduced to about third as compared to dependency on coal or other non-renewable energy sources for electricity.

Do not just think about yourself, think about Mother Earth too! Living in an environment-friendly house can be one of your unconscious contributions towards nature conservation and protection.

What You Need To Know About Eco Friendly Architects

Are you wondering what eco friendly architects do? They design eco friendly houses. These houses are not only environmentally friendly and energy saving, they are also good to look at.

How to Design an Eco Friendly House

You should design a house such that it’s situated in an area where it’s able to take full advantage of light. You should place the house in an area that is protected from the elements that might damage the house. As an architect you need to consider the direction and slope of the roof that will accommodate the solar panels.

To provide shade from intense summer sun you should design the house to have wide eaves to overhang the walls. To shelter the home from storms and chill you should ensure that the walls are thick and have fewer windows.

When planning the house ensure that you evaluate typical runoff, grade and soil type. You should use the roof to collect rainwater. When it comes to landscaping you should use material that is draught-resistant. This to save the water that would be spent on irrigation.

To ensure that there’s plenty of light in the house you should design interior spaces around adjacent terraces or sheltered courtyard. You should also factor day lighting into interior wall placement and windows.

To save on air conditioning you should take advantage of the airflow in the house. If possible you should design the house in such a way that you won’t use the air conditioning.

You should use local materials in order to avoid incurring transportation energy costs. You should aim at getting supplies from sustainable sources such as wood that has been certified by the forest Stewardship council.

If you have to use any other material you should ensure that isn’t made from toxic products. When it comes to insulation you should insulate your house with tech-forward products such as rolls of recycled blue jeans.

The door and windows should be energy efficient. Kitchen appliances, water heaters and bathroom fixtures should also be energy efficient. If your client is planning of having a swimming pool, you should consider a natural outdoor pool.

Conclusion

This is how you should design an eco friendly house. Even though it’s recommended that you use eco friendly products such as recycled products, you shouldn’t use low quality materials. This is to ensure that the house lasts for a long time. Using high quality materials also ensures that the house looks elegant.

Build Your Own Affordable, Eco-Friendly House

What is the best way to build a low-cost home that doesn’t harm the planet? Most materials such as concrete and steel are highly processed and transported long distances, making them unaffordable to millions who are in need of housing. These high-tech materials also cause a great deal of harm to the environment. The answer is to utilize locally available, low-impact natural building materials such as earth, stone, straw and small diameter wood. This article explores several methods of using earth and sustainably harvested wood to cut housing costs to rock-bottom prices. And because the techniques are user-friendly, they are ideal for do-it-yourselfers.

Earthbag building: Like other earth building methods, earthbag building is simple to learn and extremely low cost. It has evolved from the military’s use of building durable, blast and bullet resistant structures with sandbags for 100 years. Modern-day builders are using the same basic process of filling and stacking bags to build beautiful houses, offices, shops, schools and orphanages. Earthbag buildings are resistant to mold, fire, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, insects and rodents.

Since the main building material is earth, which is often free or very low cost if delivered, structures can be built literally dirt-cheap. No expensive equipment is needed. Most people already have the basic tools around their home – shovels, buckets, garden hose and ladder. The building process is so simple that unskilled workers can learn each step of construction just by watching for a minute. Earthbag building is extremely adaptable and can be used to build almost any shape imaginable, including domes, vaults, roundhouses, or more typical square or rectangular designs.

Small diameter wood: U.S. forests are currently overcrowded and prone to forest fires. Millions of acres are destroyed each year to fires and disease. Gleaning small trees from the forest in a sustainable manner actually improves the health of the forest and reduces forest fires. With an inexpensive firewood permit (about $20), anyone can obtain wood for building their home. Most of this wood usually goes up the chimney to heat homes, but it is much more valuable when turned into useful products with a long life. All the wood for a house can be obtained this way at much lower cost than buying dimension lumber from a building supply center.

One option is peeling the bark off and using them in the round for pole frames. Wood in the round is much stronger than sawn lumber and requires less processing. With a portable mill or chainsaw attachment, do-it-yourselfers can also mill their own wood for beams, joists, studs, trusses, purlins, window and door frames, trim, cabinets and furniture. Where I live, builders are culling standing dead trees (sound wood) from the forest so as to avoid the time and effort of seasoning the wood. In addition, using sustainably harvested wood as described here is more aesthetically pleasing than conventional stud walls covered with sheetrock. The beauty of the wood is left exposed, honoring the tree from which it came.

Tamped earth floors: Traditional poured earth floors can last for many centuries, thereby saving a small fortune on wood floor framing and replacement of carpet and linoleum every 15 years. Earth floors look like leather once finished and are extremely beautiful. (They’re being used in trendy, custom homes.) However, poured earth floors take a long time to dry, making them impractical in all but hot, dry climates.

Tamped earth floors use less water and dry much faster. These floors can typically be walked on one or two days after installing. The building process involves screening road base or other appropriate soil through 3/8″ mesh. This mix is spread out in 2″ layers and tamped level. The process is repeated until the desired height is reached. Material for the top coat is screened again through 1/8″ mesh. The top coat mixture is hand-troweled and burnished, using just enough water to bond well. After the floor has thoroughly dried, seal with several coats of linseed oil thinned with turpentine.

Earthen plaster: The most beautiful wall finish I’ve ever seen is earth plaster. If you’ve never seen earth plaster before, you may think of dreary brown walls. Do an Internet search for “earth plaster” and you’ll see the amazing results. Because there are many kinds of clay, there’s no limit to the range of colors, textures and special effects. One popular method uses mica in the plaster to create sparkling, brilliant walls.

Earthen plaster is the probably the most user-friendly wall finish. In many cultures women, children and the elderly have done the plaster work for centuries using just hands and basic tools. The key to durable earthen plaster is wide roof overhangs of about 36 inches. Keep rain and snow off the walls and it will last a long time, requiring only minor touchup.

These are just a few ideas to get you started thinking about using natural building materials. Thanks to the Internet, now it’s very easy to learn about these and other low-cost building methods. Additional articles on the above topics are available for free on the author’s websites.