Building an eco-friendly home does not necessarily have to be an expensive affair. Neither does it mean that the entire building should be bereft of anything man-made or industry-processed. All you really need is a judicious mix of natural and man-made materials to strike a sustainable balance.
In order to build an environment-friendly home, we need not avoid materials like glass, metals and high-density plastic. While they are not recommended per se, materials like PVC pipes are a blessing in disguise as they are strong, light and sustainable. If incorporated in the right manner, the right combination of natural and synthetic can cut down on maintenance costs in the long run and keep your abode eco-friendly too.
Homeowners who feel strongly about using natural materials should remember that not all of them are sustainable or practical in the present day. Having plastered clay flooring or a thatched roof may be eco-friendly, but does it guarantee safety or a long shelf-life? So, it’s important to have a well laid-out plan about the materials you want use. You need to ask yourself if they are the right ones for you. Additionally, how does it fare in terms of maintenance?
One needs to do thorough homework before actually going in to select eco-friendly materials. There are a series of considerations that you would need to factor in to ensure that sustainability exists throughout the home, including your materials. You need to ask yourself if the chosen materials are durable on the long run. This includes the materials that you would be choosing for your home’s infrastructure and the appliances. For instance, the flooring inside your home can be paved with partially polished granite, marble or jasper, while the areas exposed to the elements can be laid with clay tiles.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can make a wise choice to lend a touch of sustainability to your abode. Here are a few ways of doing that:
The basics: To get started, go back to the basics and use wood or terracotta jaali grills wherever possible. Start with the floors. While it is expensive nowadays, good quality wood has the potential of being an investment for a lifetime. Additionally, it has an edge over vinyl flooring as it gives your home a much earthier look. Use of wood will not only prove to be more sustainable, but will also help prevent radiation and cut down on cooling costs. Yes, the electricity bills don’t have to be exorbitant even in summer.
A bit of both: If you are opting for glass panes or long windows, you can go for half windows that are divided in the centre. Here, the bottom half is made of wood while the top half is made of glass. This arrangement will prevent excessive sunlight filtering in during summers and help trap the heat in the room during winters. You can also replace the wood with terracotta jaalis for internal partitions. This is known to facilitate good ventilation at home.
Earthy materials: Plastic overhead tanks and sumps can be substituted with stabilised terracotta tanks, which will keep the water cool. Keeping in mind the same principle, terracotta can also be used to tile a swimming pool.
As for the home’s exteriors or facade, they can be plastered with stabilised rammed earth walls. If you are looking to make it more interesting, you can perhaps get a unique, traditional artpiece done by the master craftsmen in Rajasthan.
Light yet durable: Bamboo is another strong yet light, eco-friendly material that can be used in place of metallic grills, at least in the interiors of the home.
Money matters Building a sustainable home is certainly an expensive affair. But by using the right mix of materials, it can be made affordable. In fact, there are various ways in which you can cut down on the costs at home.
One of the most popular ways is recycling. It can add an old-world charm to your home. This appeal can be brought in by using fully intact parts of old homes that have been demolished. Think foundation stones, doors, windows, terracotta tiles and plumbing materials. In addition to these, you can invest in water harvesting and solar heating systems, along with low lighting to score high on saving.
After careful consideration of every aspect of your home, preferably in consultation with your architect, you will be able to identify the sustainable materials that you can use for your abode. A judicious mix of materials can help you to not only reduce the building costs, but also to cut down on your carbon footprint.