How To Reduce Your Environmental Footprint When You Build A New Home

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As awareness around sustainability grows, it’s clear that by making smarter choices every day, we can all take steps towards reducing our environmental footprint. From cutting back our waste to turning the lights out, these small actions all add up to make a real and meaningful difference. On top of this, there are certain times when you have a unique opportunity to reduce your footprint in a huge way—and building a new home is a great example of this.

There are many wonderful homes where every design feature is focused on sustainability, however, reaching this level is not always achievable for everyone. But the good news is, that many of the essential choices you make throughout the design process can contribute positively to lessening your impact. So if you’re keen to learn some simple ways to reduce your environmental footprint when you build a new home, read on!

Customised, efficient design

Not so long ago, building a big home was something to strive for. But these days, it’s clear that a small design home, custom built to suit your needs, is a smarter move in more ways than one. Working with a builder who can tailor a design that has everything you need and nothing you don’t, means your build becomes more economical, as you reduce the materials needed and limit waste by default.

Location and orientation

When your design and layout is made to suit your block, rather than a one size fits all approach, it allows you to work with the natural features of your land, rather than against. This may include thoughtful placement on your house to minimise the impact on existing trees and vegetation, and take advantage of shading. Considering orientation is also a must, as maximising passive solar gains is one of the best ways to reduce your home’s reliance on active lighting, heating and cooling.

Reduce your energy usage

In Australia, our homes are responsible for approximately 20% of total greenhouse emissions. This means when you design and build a home that requires less energy to run, you are making a significant contribution.

We’ve touched on orientation above, and this should be combined with passive design principles such as insulation, window design, shading and ventilation where possible, to maintain comfortable temperatures inside, year-round. Designing a house that is the right size, is also key, as (in general) the bigger the home, the more energy it will take to run.  

Smart choices in fit-out for efficiency and longer life

When choosing the internal and external features of your home, discuss with your builder any opportunities for more sustainable choices. Opportunities to reduce your footprint can be found in many places, including heating, cooling, hot water service, lighting, appliances and materials. Look for choices that will not only use less energy to run, but will also last longer. Replacing appliances regularly and materials that require frequent and ongoing maintenance are costly, both financially and in their environmental impact.

Key Takeaways

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