Sustainable Homes That Generate More Electricity Than They Consume Leave a comment

Turn your home’s hub into an eco-friendly machine

Many people feel the need to live more sustainably, but apart from eating less meat and composting kitchen scraps, there are many more things you can do. Technological advancement is making great strides every day, and one of the areas at the forefront of ecological progress is the home kitchen.

First, let’s look at the environmental impact of construction and why everyone should consider changing their home’s hub into an eco-friendly machine.


Environmental Impact of Construction

Many may know that sourcing, manufacturing and transporting building materials can have a severe impact on the environment, but did you know that the construction can be just as harsh?

The construction process is responsible for hefty carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to the earth’s greenhouse effect. In extracting raw materials from the ground, large machinery, specifically those used in the cement industry, emits roughly 5% of all global air pollutants. Large vehicles and machinery on site also continue to contribute to the use of fossil fuel and CO2 emissions. Apart from adding to air pollution, the building industry accounts for nearly half of the world’s daily energy consumption.

On a building site, construction waste and by-products lead to localised water and ground pollution.

But there is hope. Through awareness, companies are changing their strategies and adopting innovative green construction practices that limit the negative environmental impact and adds to the preservation of the planet.


Sustainable Technology & Architecture

Thanks to ground-breaking strides being made in sustainable technology and architecture we can look to a greener future with homes that can even generate energy. More impressive still is the fact that surplus power generated can be redirected into the power grid. Here are a few options to consider when looking at sustainable and environmentally friendly building methods and materials.

Heating & Cooling
Air conditioning may be part of history soon with cool roof technology that reflects solar rays, keeping a house cool.

One of the most recent additions to green temperature control technology is electrochromic smart glass. Smart glass reflects solar radiation and can be electronically adjusted to suit your home temperature.

Alternative Building Materials
Passive temperature control makes use of natural cooling techniques and materials and reduces the need for artificial cooling or heating.

Installing green insulation is a great solution to regulate the chill of the colder months and the heat from summer and spring. Cellulose insulation is one of the greenest options on the market, with 80% consisting of recycled newspaper.

Compressed or rammed-earth blocks are a compressed mixture of earth, chalk, lime and gravel. The rammed earth method is derived from an ancient building technique and is being revived for its efficient temperature control, low cost and renewability.

Water is a precious resource; therefore incorporating smart water-management systems into a build is a must. Rainwater harvesting is perfect in areas where rainfall is abundant and can be used in conjunction with greywater systems that essentially recycle water for the garden. Use greywater from washing machines, showers and sinks and use only plant-friendly cleansers.

Energy-saving Home Designs
On the architectural front, an energy saving house design can be customised to suit personal preference or shaped by a low-energy, passive, zero-energy, autonomous or energy-plus design.

Low-energy homes have sufficient insulation, energy efficient windows, low levels of air filtration, and often incorporate solar technology and water recycling.

Passive houses are ultra-low energy buildings that are governed by rigorous requirements that differ from one country to the next. However, passive houses use 70-95% less energy than a standard home and rely solely on heating and cooling from fresh air and not recirculated air.

Zero-energy homes are self-sufficient and independent from supplied services.

Energy-plus homes are where a surplus power is generated due to passive design techniques and smart appliances. The excess energy produced can then be pumped back into the grid. In many countries, these homes are rewarded for the energy they generate through incentive programs.

Energy and water efficiency are crucial traits of any modern sustainable kitchen appliance. Appliances with the highest energy and water performance ratings will ensure that you use energy and water more wisely. Grundig’s EcoChamp products, for example, use solutions that will make your utility bills look a whole lot different. These products are characterised by maximum efficiency and low resource consumption.


Ultimate Green Kitchen Design

Now that there are multiple green avenues to explore it is easier to create a kitchen that functions so brilliantly that it truly makes life easier and helps the planet at the same time. The grade of green depends on the budget, structural requirements and concern for the environment. Here is what you need to create the ultimate green kitchen.

Structural Base

Sustainable, green basics for a kitchen will include ethically sourced and sustainable building materials like plywood and compressed earth bricks. Work with an architect that is familiar with green architecture and sustainable construction practices. Large windows that face the optimal direction are essential for fresh air flow and natural light that decreases the need for energy-dependant artificial light. More than one window is great for creating cross ventilation.

Ensure temperature in the kitchen is regulated with proper eco-friendly insulation and cool roofs.


Biodegradable Building Material

Choose building materials to lessen the manufacturing footprint. Popular materials include recycled glass, bamboo, cork and ethical timber. Those less known are fibreboard made from potato starch, milk-based paint, Finite, hempCrete, bio-plastics and bricks made from old plastic bags.

Smart Green Technology

Avoid a hefty energy bill by adding solar panels for power, water recycling and water-heat recovery into your home design.

Integrated Smart Appliances

Smart appliances are perfect energy-saving tools for any home, and if a new-build or large-scale renovation is not an option, try to invest in green devices. Smart appliances are so advanced now that they can even determine when household energy consumption is at its lowest and run on these times.

Smart refrigerators can detect when food is about to expire and can be connected to a smartphone to see the contents of the fridge, which is super handy for grocery shopping. Look for fridges with a smaller freezer section to avoid energy spikes.

• Instant boiling taps eliminate the need for an electric kettle and can be heated by solar power. The heat from excess hot water going down the drain can be used for water-heat recover to produce energy in return. Add a water filter and quick-wash dishwasher to use water wisely.

Induction cookers are the perfect energy saver as well as a safe alternative to electric or gas hobs. Remember that the pots and pans need to have an iron base for it to work on an induction plate.

• A smart oven can clean itself by heating the interior of the oven to extreme heat, obliterating any traces of dirt or food particles. We’re happy to wave toxic oven cleaners goodbye!

• Recycling space and a composter for raw food waste.

• Choose quality products to ensure durability and look for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star seal to determine its energy rating.

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