In this day and age, being conscious of ways to reduce the environmental impact of your home is incredibly important. By making it more environmentally friendly, you can increase the value and quality of your home, significantly reduce utility costs, minimize the impact of the building process on the environment, manage a healthy living environment, and live more sustainably. Whether you’re building new or looking to renovate and make some eco-upgrades, there is plenty you can do to green your rural home.
- If you’re building new, consider straw bales as structural material. Yes, straw! While the fable of the three little pigs tells us that this isn’t a wise idea, the team at the Battle Lake Design Group has proven otherwise. They have perfected straw bale construction to suit Western Canada’s variable and often extreme climate so that it has become a viable and mainstream building material. Straw bale construction utilizes a readily available and renewable resource, is extremely energy efficient, is adaptable for any design style and compatible with modern building technologies, improves indoor air quality, and offers many environmental and practical benefits.
- Choose eco-friendly, sustainable materials for renovation and new home projects including non-toxic paints and furnishings, energy-efficient interior and exterior treatments, and products made from natural fibres. Look for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) compliant building materials and products, which have environmental benefits and are manufactured in reduced-waste settings.
- Look for materials and furnishings with no or low VOCs — that is, Volatile Organic Compounds. Found in products like paints, vanishes, and plastics, VOCs have harsh chemical properties and are damaging to the air quality in your lifestyle environment.
- For an eco-friendly alternative to hardwood, consider using cork or bamboo. Bamboo is harder and more dense, and thus more durable, than most other woods and preserves good indoor air quality. Cork is a very eco-friendly and durable material, as it is harvested from the bark of living trees and absorbs impurities like carbon dioxide. If you want to include carpeting, find a supplier that uses sustainable wool or other natural fibres that are low-toxicity, resistant to bacteria, and will filter out allergens and dust for better air quality.
- Choose sustainable energy homes that utilize energy efficient technologies, like Photovoltaic (PV) solar grids, to incorporate the advantages of alternative energies, like lowering the cost of electricity. Of course, the extent to which you can do this will depend on the availability of sunlight in the area you live in, but advances in solar technologies make this more probable. For instance, GridWorks Energy has designed and installed PV systems for use all across Canada. If you are really passionate about greening your home, you may even want to take on the bold but impressive goal of building and furnishing a Net Zero Home. For more information on such projects, visit www.netzeroenergyhome.ca.