What methods are used in designing an eco friendly house?

Question by : What methods are used in designing an eco friendly house?
I am doing a design project that requires to be an eco friendly home, i know what eco friendly means, and what it is, just not familiar with what and how to design an eco friendly house.

Best answer:

Answer by Peter Reefman
I do this for a job, and here’s the methodology.

First take into account the site. Every site is different, even if they’re the same size and next to each other. Every site will have it’s own strengths and weaknesses based on solar access, wind availability and prevailing direction, soil type, size and shape, views, transport access, surrounding structures and trees, etc.

Then design the home around those strengths and weaknesses. Just as each site is different so will each house. That design is also influenced by passive solar heating and passive airflow cooling principles.

That’s the main core of designing an eco friendly house, and so far there’s NO extra cost over a regular house. If you get these first two steps right, the rest is relatively easy.

Next decide what to build the house out of, and what to use as far as appliances, renewable energy, etc. The budget comes into play here, because the best materials and fittings usually are more expensive. But having said that any extra money spent now will pay for itself many times over during the lifespan of the house. So it’s worth doing as much as you can possibly afford.

Also take into account toxicities of materials. An Eco house should also be a healthy house, and many materials commonly used in building contain cancerigenes such as formaldehyde.

Then think outdoors, and design the landscaping around the house to be as productive and complimentary as possible. One of the best ways to eat is straight from your own garden, and with food miles to be taken into account this is even more so now.

And finally, the last but certainly not least step is to inform the occupiers how to live in the house efficiently. Behaviour can make or break even any environment, and an eco friendly house is no exception.

Hope that one minute nutshell helps, and I have a link to a self-reliant house I’m currently building if you’d like more info. Feel free to take any ideas from it.

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4 Responses to “What methods are used in designing an eco friendly house?”

  1. Most homes need an adequate amount of insulation to keep air from leaking out. All the energy that escapes a home must be replaced. The less energy that escapes, the more ecofriendly the home.
    BY THE WAY, the government will pay to weatherize your home. It will save you $ 500 a year in energy costs.

  2. Natural materials such as wood and stone.
    Renewable energy such as a windmill or solar panels.
    Insulation and other forms of energy efficiency.
    Compost toilet.
    Re-use materials in the construction.
    Permaculture garden.
    Energy saving light-bulbs.
    Large south-facing windows to get the sun.
    Wood-burning stove.
    Back-boiler on the fireplace.
    Reed-bed water filtration system.
    Low impact housing (grass roof etc. to make it blend in with the natural surroundings).
    Avoiding the use of chemicals in the construction.
    Hemp-lined straw-bale houses are very good.
    Water filter plumbed in under the sink.

  3. Some useful sustainable design elements might include:

    – Passivhaus design standards (look this one up on Google)
    – Rainwater harvesting/permeable surfaces
    – solar panels
    – daylighting strategies (sun tubes and north-facing windows)
    – site greening (ie. vegetation)
    – micro wind turbines
    – some capacity for on-site food production
    – eco-friendly products, ie. high efficiency boilers, low-energy light bulbs, etc.

  4. 1) List all the ways we use energy in the home


    2) start with energy conservation, by looking at all the routes and ways heat is lost and design features that prevents the thermal losses, using building materials that are thermally “inert” and require the minimum possible maintenance.

    3) look at ways of *accumulating* and *storing* heat and circulating it around the building, for domestic heating, as well as ways of *dissipating* it, in summer – for example, look at ground, water and air heat pumps (no, I am not giving you links, do your own research and you’ll retain more of what you learn, pet! ;o)

    4) look at alternative energy sources – “microgeneration” like solar thermal, solar photovoltaic and small scale wind turbines

    5) look at ways to minimise the need for electricity usage – for example, by using gravity to circulate water, instead of electric pumps

    Finally, look at

    A) the amount of “embodied energy” in the materials you use (the amount of energy they took to make and transport) as well as the carbon they may have locked-up (like trees, which used carbon to grow and turned it into wood).

    B) how sustainable they are (do they use a lot of oil in their manufacture? can they be grown again? are they in scarce supply? does their manufacture affect wildlife and habitats or the livelihood of indigenous people?)

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