With the ever so growing harm being done to the planet and even more repercussions caused by it, and the ever so rising awareness and even more expanding need for immediate change, we all have been on our toes, trying hard, making small changes, taking small steps though may not to undo what’s done but to save us a tomorrow and some future. (If you are a part of this ‘we’, big hugs!! otherwise, it’s never too late, mate!) But while all steps, big or small, quick or slow matter (oh so much), the situations may be calling for bigger actions. You know it, they very evidently are.
No please, don’t scare off this early. Well, it may not be that easy, but that’s exactly why HUED’s here – to make it easier.
Now revisiting to what’s written above, when I say small steps, it could be say having sustainable décor, now thinking of a bigger initiative your mind may wander to having eco-friendly furniture, but nah, good but not enough. Solution is not this shallow for the trouble lies deeper. It’s about going beyond what’s in the home and instead digging what is it made of.
Just mere buildings contribute to about 40% of all human greenhouse gas emissions in the world. This paired along with the many highly populated areas and the general human greed, we are in, real bad. Knowing this and continuing to move forward in similar trend is worse. The only answer ever – change.
“This planet is everyone’s home, remember to not harm it in making your own.”
Peeking into what Sustainable Homes really are really quick –
Sustainable homes are those healthy homes that are minimalistic in terms of requirement of materials, efficient in the way they are built, and reverent in the respect to their demand of resources.
Photo (L-R): Svelte Austin Home by Ernesto Cragnolino and Krista Whitson; Lake Cottage by UUFie; Edgeland House, by Berry Chen Architects;
Taking initiatives right at the beginning and building greener homes hugely contributes in making the best use of the available resources of all sorts and in the truest sense amplifies the eco efforts, overall seizing the priorly present opportunities to go green.
As much big and cumbersome as it may sound to build a whole sustainable house, it pretty much comes down to (again…) choices – precisely of the materials, the methods and techniques, the design and more. And trust me there are many! Sustainable homes are all that normal homes are and so much more.
Photo (L-R): ‘Accord Passive House’ by North River Architecture and Planning; Solar Homes, Sweden by Street Monkey Architects; Shadow Cottage Daylesford by MRTN Architects; Lake Cottage by UUFie
To help you with that, in this one, as you scroll through, you’ll find various insights and set of choices, topped with loads of inspiration in order to build a Green/Sustainable Home for you and for the good of the planet.
I was about to list the constructions materials that are hazardous to the planet but that’s literally all that’s very widely and extensively used. Lead, cement, PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), Silica, Fiberglass literally all of it and more. These are highly polluting, yet are present in more than half of the buildings around the world. They are toxic to the planet and even to humans, owing to natural substances, way of production, and more. While we kick these off the list as BIG NO-Nos, here are the options you can resort to:
- Bamboo: Arguably one of the friendliest to the earth, bamboo above and tall (literally) the rest of the sustainable building materials. What we are seeing being used for toothbrushes, is amazingly strong and sturdy enough to hold a home. It has an exceptionally high self-generation rate and durability, is lightweight with high strength-to-weight ratio. And, also easy on the pocket. (Bingo!)
Use for: Scaffolding, Flooring, Cabinetry.
- Straw Bales: Because of the very factor that star is renewable and readily available, Straw is another construction favorite. May come to your surprise, but straw bales are fire resistant due to their high insulating properties and contribute to keeping warmth and cool in winters and summers respectively. Additionally sound proof, they require little energy to manufacture, are cheap, and on top of it all, are 100% biodegradable!
Use for: Walls, Window Seats, Ceilings, Attics.
- Precast Concrete Slabs: Another one on the affordable material list is Precast Concrete Slabs. While in-situ concrete is often used, these in fact are a more sustainable option as these require less concrete to be made, credits it being technically advanced and less use of energy. Since they are made offset and reach the construction site all ready and done, there’s less waste, labor, time, cost. They are recyclable, durable and highly cable of controlling heat in the building.
Use for: Floor, Curtain Walls, Roof.
These materials may have been mentioned here but the list goes on. There are many more similar materials and good alternatives such as Cock, reclaimed Wood, Recycled Metals, Sheep’s Wool, Hemp Crete, more offering endless sustainability for you to incorporate in your home.
The Method and Techniques
- Opt for a smaller or instead a reasonable sized space. Underlying theme of sustainability is minimalism. Let ‘Less Is More’ guide you here. Smaller spaces naturally require less of energy, resources, efforts, cost and more and are superefficient.
- Select a smart shape. Some shapes are better than the others. A long spread, low rise building invites more loss of energy than the high rise taller ones.
- Make absolute use of all that comes with the location – All the natural resources, very majorly including daytime natural light. For which, have a passive solar design. This is using walls, windows and floors as tools to play around with solar energy in order to minimize the heating demand of the building.
- Insulate. Cannot stress this enough. Insulating homes, through eco-friendly methods, delivers good performance in terms of keeping the temperature balanced. It further extensively saves energy and subsequent costs.
- Choose wiser windows. To actually and strongly backup home insulation, opt for double or even better – triple glazed or three pane windows. These keep the heat from escaping and temperature intact.
- Go cool with roof, in all literal sense. Cool roofs too play part in the temperature of the home. These reflect instead of absorbing heat, keeping the inside cooler and saving energy.
- Rainwater Collection. This one’s textbook! Choose barrels or install roof gutters water to direct the rainwater to storage tanks to make better use of it later.
- Keep in mind and respect the layout of the surrounding – in terms of visual aesthetics too. Make sure to opt for design, vibes and overall look it in a fashion that harmonizes with the surrounding, further eliminating need of extra/artificial efforts.
- And so much more!
Now that we are thorough with the know-what and know-why, we land to know-how. That maybe a little difficult for you to learn and definitely a lot harder for me write. For the sake of us both and the home we dream of building, its only better and right to leave it or lean on the ones who know it the best and do it right. So here are some professionals that are actually implementing the change that we wish to bring and doing it like no other!
Brain child of Ms Shriti Pandey, Strawcture Eco, founded in 2018, reinvents the construction industry as it incorporates agricultural residue into building structures. It is on to making spaces green and sustainable, in fast, affordable and aesthetically pleasing fashion. The company is India’s first to use compressed bio-composite/agri-fribre panels for building buildings. These are made of 100% rice straw and are durable, non-toxic and all the way green!
Amongst the top 10 sustainable architects of India, Auroma Architecture is led by a sister-brother duo, Trupti Doshi and Viral Doshi. They value the well-being of humans as well as the planet as they make use of natural and eco-friendly construction to create living buildings and other spaces. They do this in a way that complements the environment and keeping in mind the principles of rainwater harvesting, waste recycling, energy efficiency and solar power.
Made in Earth
Based in Bangalore, Made in earth is an architecture studio birthed or rather built by Shruthi Ramakrishna, Jeremie Gaudin, Agnimitra Bachi and Ajinkya Unhale. The 4 and team find joy in building buildings with natural building material, sustainability-focused techniques and innovation, as they bring a very necessary change in the urban landscape. Made in Earth simultaneously also runs Earthly Yours, where they bring colors in to the lives and spaces of people, using handcrafted natural plasters, made of lime, clay and dust.
Product of the business marriage of Chitra K. Vishwanath and Rainwater Club, Biome Environmental Solutions, is a Bangalore based design off on architectural adventures focused on ecology, architecture and water. They venture on with each project executing functionality, budget, and aesthetics demanded by the client as well keeping at heart the sound health of the environment by encouraging sustainable living practices.
Often regarded as the Bamboo Lady of India, and one to have widely vouched bamboo construction, Neelam Manjunath is a Bangalore-based architect that started Manasaram Architects back in 1991. With a 3 decade plus experience in the industry, alongside multiple ongoing projects, Manasaram works with natural available materials, including sun, soil, water, mud and more to construct buildings, as it commits itself to fight climate change.
Fun Fact: Manasaram Architects’s office in Bangalore, ‘The Bamboo Symphony’ is a perfect example of what bamboo, if used sensibly, could do and evidently a jaw dropping vision.
Post going through these I’m sure and hope you feel – a little less frightened by the feasibility of the task to actually build sustainable homes and a lot amazed by the many and huge ways they participate in the betterment we are all trying hard to bring. So go sustainable from the core to the décor of the house and change the world from your very home!