Ask The Experts - Eco-Friendly Homes

We’re looking into designing a home that is eco-friendly. There are many aspects we need to take into consideration — how to achieve natural lighting, project costing and the use of the right construction materials, to give a few examples. What advice can you give us?

The benefits of creating an eco-friendly and efficient home include lower fuel bills, healthy living space and having a positive impact on the environment. But creating a sustainable home isn’t simply about introducing addon renewable technology, it’s important to consider the fabric of your build as well.

Building in an environmentally friendly way has many benefits, along with being both incredibly rewarding and cost-effective too. Not only are you helping to look after the environment, but you’ll also enjoy lower bills, increased energy efficiency and your home will require less maintenance over time.

With a wealth of information and support available, it is now easier than ever before to create a greener and more energy-efficient home. There are many helpful recommended sources out there to provide you with all the information you need and guide you on your way to getting greener. Energy Saving Trust has a website giving guidance on energy efficiency options that you may consider useful towards making your building an eco-friendly home. When it comes to building eco-homes on a budget, there are several things to consider.

Let’s start with building materials. Your choice of insulation will play an important part; eco-friendly insulating materials include materials such as sheep’s wool, cellulose (recycled newspaper) or wood fibre. These can be reused and recycled and are fully biodegradable. Sustainably-sourced timber, blockwork, brick and pre-fabricated systems, which are made off-site in a factory, are all viable options to consider.

Dense materials such as brick and concrete offer high levels of thermal mass, so that during the day they absorb and store heat, while at night the heat is slowly released, keeping your home at a comfortable temperature. For the best of both worlds, many prefabricated timber builds can be clad with blockwork or brick. Interior elements such as a polished concrete floor will offer similar benefits of warmth.

Not only is lighting an essential component of home design that can have a crucial impact on the general atmosphere, but it’s also one of the simplest ways to go green. But there’s more than one way to switch to eco-friendly lighting; in fact, there’s a variety of options that will help you design an eco-friendlier home with a bright and light ambience that you’ll love.

Change your bulbs to either LED or CFL — they are extremely energy efficient and give out effective lighting to your room. Try to make as much use of natural light as possible by adding a window or skylight to open the room up more. Finally, you can maximise the light in the room by choosing light colours and reflective materials for your walls, ceiling or floor. Light-coloured and shiny flooring options like linoleum or polished woods can reflect a lot of ambient light.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to designing an eco-friendly home, with many benefits to yourself and the environment. You’ll find that, in the long run, you will save money, enjoy better health and help conserve the environment for both current and future generations.

Ashleigh Clarke is Managing Partner and Architect at Ashleigh Clarke Architects in Bourton-on-the-Water. To contact Ashleigh, email info@ashleighclarkearchitects.com or call 01451 821581. More information can be found by visiting the website - www.ashleighclarkearchitects.com.