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Green credentials: Get to grips with sustainable living

Article source: Greenleaf Alternative Solutions

There’s no doubt that you’ve heard the term “sustainable living”, but what does it really mean, and what impact is it having on how we design – and live in – our homes?

In simple terms, sustainable living means: meeting our needs in the present without compromising the long-term availability of the natural resources that sustain our way of life. It involves taking no more than the environment can supply and renew, living in balance with nature, and being aware of how your actions (from buying products to throwing away waste) affect the environment.

How is sustainable thinking being implemented in homes? 

A sustainable home uses few non-renewable resources, is energy efficient and causes little or no damage to its environment. “The National Building Regulations have made sustainable thinking in architecture mandatory,” says Chen Sagnelli of Sagnelli Associate Architects.

Along with solar power, “building orientation, window openings, natural ventilation, natural vegetation, building skins and atriums are feature aspects in creating buildings that can sustain themselves”, adds Francois Marais of Francois Marais Architects.

Other sustainable solutions to implement at home include greywater recycling and rainwater harvesting. When it comes to building, materials should be environmentally friendly, and be reused and recycled where possible, with new technologies, such as plaster with thermal properties, also providing opportunities to being more resourceful with home design.

It is important that, when choosing an architect and proceeding with the initial design of your home, you consider going green from the start,” says Katie Truscott of Greenleaf Alternative Solutions.

What are the cost implications of a sustainable design?

While the initial outlay to make a home sustainable may seem high, in the long term it will be less costly, not only for bills, but also on the environment. “With ever-developing technologies and an increasing need for sustainability, there are more and more products on the market that are becoming affordable, allowing green design to form part of the residential market,” Francois points out.