Eco-Living: The New Face of Sustainable Design
As Ryan Fitzgerald puts it, “A green home is built with a much larger home in mind –Planet Earth”. Going Green or Eco-friendly is the way of life now. With pollution creating havoc in our lives and reducing our standards of living, more and more people have realised the importance of Eco-friendly living. Global warming, an increase in the amount of CO2 in the air and depletion of the Ozone layer, all are a direct result of the unhealthy ways in which we have treated our environment. Interior Designer Mrs. Neetu Chopra suggests some tips that are sustainable and eco-friendly.
Non-Synthetic and Non-Toxic Materials
A vast majority of building materials that we use are hazardous to the environment. Many building materials contain lead, mercury, PVC and halogenated flame retardants, which are highly detrimental to both human health and the general environment. CFLs should be replaced by LEDs as they are more efficient and also do not contain mercury. The use of lead should be reduced as much as possible while plumbing, water lines and instead brass fittings should be used. PVC starts emitting phthalates with time and also produces dioxin if burned. Dioxin is known as the most toxic substance known and phthalates can lead to serious health issues. Copper pipes must replace the PVC ones for portable water. PEX is another cheap alternative that can be considered. Halogenated flame retardants are used in almost all foam products and completely avoiding them might be impossible because of the abundance of their use. However, keeping away from products with HFRs should be done as much as possible.
Using Energy Efficient Equipment
Our markets have seen a surge in products that are labelled with “Energy Star” rating systems. These ratings are given by the Environmental Protection Agency and the better the ratings; the more energy efficient the product is. Buying products with the greatest star rating is in the best interest of the consumer and the environment. Not only is the maintenance and usage cost effective, but higher energy efficiency means better utilisation of resources.
Installing Proper Insulation
Not only is a well insulated building more comfortable and cost efficient to maintain, but it is much quieter too. Common beliefs about insulations say that they make your house comfortable in all seasons and reduce your energy bills. While all this is true, but the aspect where insulations curtail outside noise and help you in creating a peaceful environment are often overlooked. So, insulation is beneficial in multiple ways. You must ensure that all your doors and windows have special attachments that prevent any air leakages. There is a lot of energy losses around ducts, so be keen to have them fitted well.
Use Solar Panels
From common knowledge we know that the sun is a source of clean renewable energy. Getting it into use with modern technology for sustained benefits is an emerging trend in the world today. These solar panels trap the energy of the sun in the form of sunlight, store it and later reproduce it for consumption. Installing these panels might seem to be an expensive affair, but the long-term benefits resulting make it worth it.
According to an NDTV article I had read in the past, the air we breathe indoors is 2 to 5 times more polluted than what we inhale outdoors. Furnishings like curtains, mattresses, pillows, drapes, etc., all contain harmful dust particles and microbial organisms that are not human-friendly. Better ventilation stands at the crux of an eco-friendly house. Using activated charcoal, salt lamps, beeswax candles and essential oils inside your home elevates the air quality drastically.
Using Energy Saving Lights
Any reduction in the amount of energy consumed in smaller units can eventually add up and produce visible changes in the environment. Using bulbs that consume lesser electricity are one such step towards a greener future.
Rain Water Harvesting
Rainwater is one of the purest forms of water available. To utilise this water and save it from being wasted and spoiled, modern homes may have rainwater harvesting systems placed on rooftops. The water can then be subsequently stored in tanks. This water can be used in toilets and sprinkler systems and safe drinking water for edible purposes only.
Grow Outdoor and Indoor Plants
What is a better way to achieve environmental sustainability than growing plants. Plants both within and outside homes act as natural air filters. Whereas some plants have an excessive capability to absorb pollutants, others only can work to limited extents. There are harmful pollutants emitted by carpets, furniture, electronic equipment, etc. Cultivating plants outside homes has been a common practice but letting them grow inside homes can significantly reduce pollutants within our homes.
Constructing homes in a manner that they are surrounded by trees on their southern and western sides is a wonderful way to plan your house perfectly. This helps for cooler summers and warmer winters. These trees would block sunlight in the summers, and reduce the greenhouse effect to warm up your home during summers, while in winters they would allow more sunlight to enter your house as they shed their leaves.