Sustainable design can be described as a total process to enhance building performance by reducing negative consequences on the environment to improve the comfort and health of occupants in the building. It’s achieved by reducing the use of non-renewable resources, creating productive environments, and minimizing waste. Some principles of sustainable design include optimizing site potential, using environmentally friendly products, minimizing non-renewable consumption of energy, improving indoor environmental quality, and conserving water. In the building of a home, sustainable design involves incorporating all these principles into the architecture, construction materials, landscape and garden, as well as the products and accessories which are to be used in the home.
According to Thomas A. Fisher, there are five principles in sustainable architecture. The first is to provide a healthful interior environment which is achieved by using non-toxic materials and building systems which do not emit toxic gases and substances. Energy efficiency is achieved by minimizing the building’s use of energy. Ecologically benign materials refer to the use of building materials which reduces the depletion of the global environment. Environmental form is the consideration of all factors like the design plan and form in relation to the climate, region, and site. Good design means that every aspect of the building has to be designed to ensure an elegant and long lasting relationship with the Earth.
Sustainable gardening can be described as an eco-friendly approach to gardening. It involves caring for the soil, using compost and worms, reducing the use of chemicals, water conservation, garden design, plant selection, and selection of sustainable products. By following the guidelines for sustainable gardening, homeowners would enjoy the benefits of an organic garden. Organic matter like compost or manure helps to improve the water retention capacity of the soil, and also enrich it with nutrients. Instead of using pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides, it’s better to use natural alternatives like garlic spray or pyrethrum. Sustainable gardening is a total concept which governs every aspect of the garden.
Extending the idea of sustainable design, the heating, cooling, ventilation, and water systems have to be improved. Again, the goal is to select systems which cause the least harm to the environment. For sustainable heating, some options are solar heating, wood pellet stoves, and ground source heat pumps. Some of the alternative cooling solutions include fans, evaporative coolers, and refrigerated air conditioners. Improving the water system is a home is more complicated. Water can be conserved by installing low water capacity toilets, faucet aerators, and shower flow restrictors. Other approaches include rain water harvesting, gray water recycling, and composting toilets. One approach to sustainable ventilation is to improve natural ventilation through home design or modifications. There are also other ventilation options like extractor fans, passive stack ventilation, central extract ventilation, and whole house mechanical ventilation with heat recovery.
The idea of sustainable design also encompasses the use of eco home products and accessories. For all home electronics and appliances, try to look for Energy Star products. These products are designed to consume less electricity and they are more eco-friendly. As for furniture, blinds, beds, mattresses, cupboards, and all other home accessories, it’s best to select products which are made of renewable materials so that they can be recycled.
As natural resources dwindle across the world, the need for sustainable design is more urgent than ever. In the future, sustainable design may not be a choice but a necessity. Thinkers are constantly trying to explore and develop more alternatives to ensure that the world has enough natural resources to support future generations.