For years and decades, climate change has hung over modern civilization like the sword of Damocles. Greenhouse gas emissions urgently need to be reduced in order to avert an impending climate catastrophe in good time. When building or renovating houses, too, many people wonder how they can find more sustainable solutions. “Sustainable” means above all energy-saving. However, people who are afraid that they will face additional, difficult-to-calculate sums of money can be reassured at this point: In the long term, energy-efficient alternatives can even save money. Sustainability in building doesn’t have to be expensive or overly complicated. Instead, a lot can be achieved with a manageable amount of effort. The following points can be used when planning a house.
The greatest energy consumption of a property is caused by heating. However, many heating systems are based on fossil fuels. Since these are limited, it is not a sustainable alternative. Greener alternatives are, for example, air-to-water heat pumps. These use the thermal energy of the ambient air for heating. To extract the heat, they need energy in the form of electricity. If you want to improve the CO2 balance even further, you can combine the heat pump with a photovoltaic system. In this way, the electricity demand from the grid can be further reduced by using solar modules on the roof.
Use biodegradable insulation materials
Good thermal insulation is also important so that no unnecessary heat is lost when heating. To do the environment a favor, do without mineral or rock wool and use natural materials instead. Not only can these be better recycled, they are also harmless from a health point of view during use. Since they also absorb more moisture than conventional insulation materials, they also help to prevent mold and improve the indoor climate. In order to determine the efficiency of a specific material, plays in particular the U-value, also called the heat transfer coefficient, plays a role. This is a unit of measurement that indicates how much heat is lost from a particular component. Most natural insulation materials have good insulation values. Sustainable insulation materials are, for example, wood, hemp fiber, cellulose, reed or jute fibers. Jute is a little more expensive than other sustainable insulation materials, but it has excellent insulation values and is also resistant to pests. The material is often mixed with hemp fiber, making it a cost-effective solution.
Traditional building materials from the region
When we buy food, we know exactly which foods are sustainable: namely those that have been produced under ecological conditions, seasonally and regionally. Basically the same applies to building materials. So why rely on materials that come from afar and have endless transport routes behind them? Until the first half of the last century it was still common to build with the materials that were found in the area. For example stones from the nearby quarry or wood from the nearest forest. In this way, a typical optical character of many regions was created. So you not only help to reduce CO2 consumption through long transport costs, you also support regional craft businesses. Ecological building materials also contain fewer pollutants, are therefore more health-friendly and can usually be recycled. Important eco-building materials are clay, granite, wood, thatch or slate.
Green outside areas
Anyone who has ever walked through the concrete jungle of many large cities and industrial areas will hardly be surprised at the worldwide death of insects. Bees need flowers and an intact ecosystem in order to go about their work undisturbed. Even monotonous green lawns offer little food and shelter for insects. Green exterior areas and facades, on the other hand, represent biotopes in which insects can settle. Flat roofs or balconies overgrown with wild plants are also aesthetic and counteract the extinction of species. In addition, they can also improve the thermal insulation of the house.
Economical electrical appliances
This last point is about the interior design of the finished house – there are also sustainable solutions for living and furnishing. Large electrical appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers and dryers use a lot of electricity. A refrigerator that is twenty years old usually requires almost twice as much energy as a new appliance. When buying new electrical appliances, make sure they have a good energy class. Electric stoves burn a lot of CO2 when they are in use and continue to heat for a long time afterwards. More economical gas or induction cookers are therefore more recommended. When you are not using a device, switch it off – the standby mode also consumes electricity!