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Green Home Building Tips | Part 1: Choosing the right site and the right design


You know you want to build your own green home. But where do you start? At Sustainable Design Collective, we’ve put together a five-part series on the green building process that covers all of the major considerations for environmentally-friendly home building, and is full of hints and tips to not only get started but to maximise your efficiency and reduce the overall environmental impact of your construction project. Whether you’ve chosen a green build kit home or will be building from scratch, this series is for you.

Our first post takes you through the initial building considerations. Building green is a passion for many people who want to reduce the negative impacts of homeownership on the environment, from using sustainable materials to lowering energy consumption. By building a green home, you can help create a better world for yourself and for future generations. Fortunately, building green is also easily achievable and affordable, and by following these important tips you can reduce the cost and maximise the efficiency of your new green home.

Choosing the right site

The first step in maximising the environmental benefits of your new green home is to choose an appropriate site. Often, self-builders already have a site in mind or have limited choices in where to place their ground-up construction or their eco-friendly kit home. However, if you haven’t selected your property site yet, consider what factors the site’s location will have on your future energy and transportation costs, based on your specific needs. Will you get adequate sun for solar panels? Are you in close proximity to public transport? Will you have to travel far to work or to do your daily shopping? The benefits of green building can be greatly increased by wisely choosing your location. You can further minimise the invasive impact of green home building by choosing a site where a home had been built before, and is already connected to power and water.

Consider the surrounding area

Once you’ve chosen your future home’s location and are ready to build, consider how to best develop and maintain the area surrounding your home. You’ll want to keep as much of the site as natural as possible. Limit the size of your driveway and parking areas, and keep paving to a minimum. Where paving is necessary, choose light-coloured materials to reduce the “heat island” effect, a disruption in the temperatures in the natural environment that can have significant long-term effects on plant and animal life. The use of green and cool roofs in the building process will also help alleviate heat island effects, with the added benefit of keeping your home cooler in the summer months.

To further protect the native flora and fauna, only use native and non-invasive plant species in your garden and landscaped areas, and ensure that you’ve introduced erosion and sedimentation controls for the surrounding area.

Begin considering how you can take advantage of the site’s natural features in the green home building process, such as large, shady trees that can help cool your home in the summer. In our next post, we’ll explore how to work with the natural environment, and how proper positioning and design of your green home can dramatically reduce your home’s overall environmental impact.

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