— 6 Jan 2020, 07:57 by Emma Ward-Lambert
One of the things that we hear a lot from clients is “we want our house to be eco-friendly”. With issues of sustainability, climate change, wastage, and our impact on our environment being regularly discussed in the media, it’s only natural that an ‘eco-friendly’ home would be in our minds and on our wish-lists. But what exactly is an eco-friendly house? And how can we as architects help clients to define and achieve their goals?
First, it’s important to boil down to exactly where your concerns and priorities lie. Are you wanting to achieve specific targets such as carbon-neutral or Passivhaus status? Do you want to consider the ecological impacts too (ie on flora and fauna too)? Do you simply want to use energy efficiently, or do you want to take a more holistic approach considering spatial requirements, the construction process, energy use, resources, embodied energy, light pollution, chemicals, indoor air quality, local skills, recycled materials…the list can go on and on.
For some clients these might be easy questions to answer, whilst others may need more help based on what is reasonable, local planning policies, whether the brief or design ambitions are at odds with the sustainability goals, and what the budget can accommodate. We are here to guide, educate and support your aspirations.
As designers, we believe that we have a responsibility to consider the impact that our designs have on the environment, but these impacts can be mitigated through different approaches:
Most importantly, we view sustainability as something inherent in design, rather than just a tacked-on technology. As such, when we design your home we will consider:
To supplement the sustainable design principles that run through our architecture, we also address how technologies can be used to reduce the demand for energy or resources, use them more efficiently, or generate them on site:
We often work with Mesh Energy – a local renewable energy consultancy firm – who can offer expert advice on energy usage and sustainable solutions, ensuring that the technology and architecture are integrated flawlessly.
In addition to these ‘big moves’, we can also guide you with regards to selection of more sustainable interiors, materials and products. For instance, we will specify responsibly procured materials (ie timber from sustainable, certified forests) and use locally-sourced where possible; we will consider whether reclaimed materials are appropriate or if products made from waste can be used (ie engineered timber products using sawmill offcuts and waste), and if we can select natural materials for your interiors. We will specify sanitaryware to reduce water usage and wastage, and can select products with low VOC content (ie paints, varnishes, adhesives, fabrics, carpets, plastic products etc) to improve air quality and reduce the risk of environmental contamination.
Wherever your ambitions sit on the ‘green scale’, we can help to define and achieve your eco-friendly credentials.