You can’t go wrong with the right green builder
There is an avalanche of information available on green building, with multiple Melbourne businesses positioning themselves as green builders who sell and use sustainable building products wherever possible.
Understanding which sustainable products are right for you and what the alternatives are is vital to ensuring that your home is eco-friendly.
Home builders who specialise in construction, renovation and restoration are considered green when they apply their vast knowledge of eco-friendly solutions and advise you on the greenest way to suit your unique situation.
Truly green builders will do more than simply putting in more insulation, installing solar, and adding a water tank. The decision to use eco-friendly builders will save you both time and money by ultimately creating a more sustainable home. Expert green builders evaluate the effectiveness and value of eco-friendly products and materials and provide homeowners with real expert advice on the best way to build an eco-friendly home.
When deciding which builder to choose for your eco home build, make sure your builder is an expert on the following important aspects of the building process.
Mechanical air ventilation is widely used in Europe and means homeowners can filter out all outside contaminants – allowing you and your family to breathe cleaner air 24/7. This type of ventilation is extremely beneficial for creating an asthma- and allergy-friendly home, in addition to producing significant energy savings.
Ask your potential builder to explain how mechanical ventilation works. Your builder should explain that mechanical ventilation allows things like pollen and pollutants to be filtered out using a carbon filter, while simultaneously converting the temperature from the stale air into the new internal fresh air using 92% efficient heat exchange units. Mechanical ventilation can also heat and cool air, removing the need for extra temperature control in eco homes. Mechanical ventilation uses very low wattage power and can be easily be powered by solar panels for a cost-efficient ventilation process.
Landscape and garden
Experienced eco-friendly builders will understand that the house works hand-in-hand with the landscaping. The right garden can help make your home more comfortable, aesthetically pleasing and cheaper to run. Eco homes will benefit from landscaping and plant choices that produce these long term sustainable advantages in a cost-efficient way. For example, roof gardens help to insulate a green home from the cold during winter and heat in summer, saving homeowners on heating and cooling costs.
A green builder should know how to fit out a conventional house with better insulation practices to ensure it measures up to the best standards as part of a green renovation.
In a new home, factors such as the design of the house, the choice of wall structure and ventilation are the biggest factors in building an eco house. Eco-friendly builders should consider all green insulation alternatives before opting for fibreglass batts, including:
- Insulated concrete forms (ICF) – This is concrete with exterior insulation, offering the ultimate in insulation performance, fireproofing, soundproofing, long term durability and unmatched strength.
- High thermal mass walls such as mud brick or rammed earth – This tried and tested form of insulation ensures low embedded energy and is very effective when combined with well designed exterior insulation strategies.
- Reverse brick veneer – Having the bricks on the inside and insulated from external charging from the outside holds heat in winter and keeps your home cool in summer.
- Recycled low thermal bridge.
Low or no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) or other toxic compounds in your home
VOCs are poisonous chemicals that can become gas at typical room temperatures, seeping from adhesives used in veneers, ply beams, trusses, furniture, paints and more. Other toxic compounds, such as mould spores from wet areas, also need to be considered, as they have the potential to produce reactions and can trigger asthma.
These compounds are released more as temperatures rise, highlighting the need to have fresh air coming into your house, rather than circulating these potentially harmful gases around your home through your ducted heating and cooling.
A knowledgeable green builder can advise you on ways to avoid these issues, including minimal use of veneers, natural timber and stone finishes, low or no VOC paints and coatings, using internal gardens and more.
Greywater treatment systems
Greywater comes from your laundry and bathrooms, containing some pollutants and nutrients that shouldn’t be used to water your garden. This greywater does have other uses including for flushing toilets. Your green builder can advise you on the water system required for your needs and home size.
Using rainwater for toilet flushing, garden watering and your laundry can reduce your total water usage by as much as 40%. For example, the Davey Rain bank system will automatically prioritise tank water when available and switch you seamlessly over to mains when the tank is low.
There are also systems that allow you to use rainwater for the entirety of your home. At Calm Living Homes, we are experienced in the recommendation and installation of rainwater harvesting systems for all types of homes.
Passive heating and cooling
To save (or sometimes eliminate) costly energy bills, your eco-friendly builders will need to make the right design decisions for your site. These decisions will mean that your house retains a steady temperature regardless of the season, with less need for additional heating and cooling. An experienced green builder who has been exposed to the inner workings of many houses in real life can help you maximise your energy savings.
Green home design
A quality green home design requires a combination of all these factors to be considered successfully eco-friendly. An expert green builder should be able to advise you on design principles that will allow you to reduce the overall size of your home without compromising on room size, aesthetics or quality of finishes.
At Calm Living Homes, our team of professionals have worked within the eco-friendly build and design space for over thirty years. We are experienced in all aspects of the build process and are here to ensure that your home is sustainable for the years to come.
To find out more or have a chat about your project, give our friendly team a call today on 0418 177 380 or fill out our online contact form, and we will be in touch.