Home buyers today, especially the younger generation, are increasingly warming up to the concept of ‘green homes’. These homes offer multiple benefits, not only in terms of a healthy lifestyle, but also provide serious savings on electricity and water.
Pune-based software consultant Sharad Sejpal, is one such individual, who turned his 4-BHK apartment into an eco-friendly one, with the help of an architect who made some minor changes and used environment-friendly products. “Being a technology professional, I always had an impression that it would be difficult to embrace a green lifestyle. However, now, by just making small changes in my home, I have a green home,” Sejpal says.
“The concept of green homes, not only aims at using natural building materials during construction, but also adopts other methods, such as solar energy for electrification, rainwater harvesting, waste management, etc. Thus, the usage of natural resources and further recycling of the same, ensures sustainability in the long term,” points out Shveta Jain, managing director, residential services, Cushman & Wakefield India.
What can home buyers do?
Design of the house
Many leading developers, have introduced energy-saving and non-toxic building materials, along with rainwater harvesting, waste water treatment systems, etc., resulting in long-term benefits for the buyer.
Homes can also be designed in ways that improve the internal atmosphere. Where space permits, homes can be designed with lawns, or a small patch of vegetation. The presence of open green spaces around buildings, can improve cross-ventilation and reduce the ambient temperature. This helps to create a healthy and comfortable environment, for home owners.
“It is estimated that in several years, it would be possible to design green homes with nearly zero net energy consumption. Such green homes on a mass scale, will bring about an impact and visible change in the geography of the area,” maintains Aparna Jain, a freelance interior designer.
While energy saving refers to minimising energy consumption, energy efficiency is the process of making optimum use of a given amount. “The key components in energy saving houses, are the increased use of natural light and ventilation – something that also aids in overall good health,” shares Akshata Somaiya, an interior designer who has been promoting environment-friendly methods. “Such houses need less of air-conditioning. Home owners can also opt for energy-saving devices. Although these may cost more, they last longer and reduce electricity bills and hence, are a good investment,” suggests Somaiya.
“Switch off fans and lights when leaving a room and avoid using air-conditioners. If the rooms are well-lit and ventilated, the energy consumed will be less,” adds Iype. Plant trees or keep potted plants wherever possible. This helps to keep the house cool and provides fresh air. Find out which materials can keep the house cool (if you stay in a hot place) or warm (if you live in a colder place) and invest in them. Choose LED lighting – they may cost more but they consume less power and last longer.
Use environment-friendly products and recycle
An important step towards sustainability and conservation, is to switch from products that produce more waste to products that are environment-friendly. Jaimin Desai, head-sustainability, Mahindra Lifespaces, informs, “Materials such as fly-ash bricks (instead of conventional clay bricks), AAC/ CLC blocks and high volume fly-ash concrete, are in vogue. It has been made compulsory by the civic body, to have sewage treatment plants, water treatment plants and rainwater harvesting systems.”
Developers can also switch to using recycled waste wood chips. Terrace and roof sections can be specially designed, with high albedo materials or reflective paint, to reduce heat absorption and the load on air-conditioning units.
Simple ways, to save energy and build a green home:
- Insulate the loft, using natural or recycled materials wherever possible.
- Buy furniture made from recycled materials.
- Choose wood-framed windows, instead of PVC or metal. As wood is a natural insulator, it helps to keep the cool air inside the building.
- Choose water-based paints, in place of oil-based ones.
- Recycle and re-use waste water.
- Roofs and terraces can have gardens and solar panels.
- If there is enough sunlight, avoid using artificial lights during the day.
- Implement rainwater harvesting, which is a very simple way to conserve rainwater.