Nowadays, the term 'green' rolls off the tip of the tongue of most people who are involved in the construction industry. This is a field which has had to adapt phenomenally over the years, simply because it contributes most to those high emissions that the government are attempting to curb.
Take a look around Archiquality, and most examples will be of the green variety as well. It's become somewhat fashionable to build a sustainable dwelling, and advancements in technology means that such buildings look completely stylish.
The industry has even coined its own term to describe those buildings which are looking to break boundaries when it comes to energy efficiency. Passivhaus is the description for such properties and there is now an official standard to deem whether or not buildings can be awarded this title. Suffice to say, it's quite an accolade and if you are looking for your next house to take centre stage, it's certainly worth investigating.
The fact that the BRE runs its own long-term qualification for Passivhaus highlights exactly how extensive the standard is, and how it certainly cannot be explained adequately in one article. However, if you are considering injecting more green than usual into your next self-build, here are some of the principles that are becoming commonplace and will set you well on your way to at least satisfying some of the Passivhaus requirements.
Take full advantage of the roof space
Take around at these designs — notice something in common? All of the roofs are completely out of the ordinary. Gone are the days when we a surveyor will complete his rounds for the day and see a hipped, gable and flat roof — the shapes that are seen in the current age are beyond description.
In fact, architects now seem to be creating their own unique roof shapes every day. They're constantly getting more extreme and while design obviously plays a big part in this — so does sustainability.
Solar panels naturally have a big part to play in staying green and it goes without saying that they need to be facing the west in a bid to maximise their performance.
However, staying green isn't just about sticking a load of modern panels on the roof. It also revolves around your glazing and the benefits in relation to skylights are beyond belief. They'll attract a considerable amount of heat towards the building, as well as inject light into the place at the same time. Again, they need to be positioned appropriately though, and this is where that funky roof design comes into play.
...But also dig downwards
Don't be fooled into thinking that all of your efforts need to come from the roof. It might play a big part in staying green, but another area you can reap the rewards from is the ground. Ground Source Heat Pumps might not have made a significant impact on the house building market like solar panels, but their rewards are obvious for all to see.
Particularly if you are taking advantage of an underfloor heating system, the rewards can be fantastic. Some households will save 5,230kg of carbon dioxide every year, and that's just from installing a pipe deep into your garden. Of course, it's slightly more complex than that — and expensive as well, with some systems costing around £15,000. This is the main reason why a lot of households opt against it but if you are adamant about creating that dream, eco home, GSHPs are the thing in fashion at the moment.
The A-Z of windows
Buying a new window used to be a simple process. Now, it’s not quite like that — especially when you’re installing them onto a brand new property.
Firstly, the position of the windows in the green day and age is crucial. They again need to act as sun traps, in a bid to extract as much heat and light to the house as possible.
However, technology advancements mean that there is now another issue to consider in the way of glazing. Triple glazing is pretty much expected by the green community nowadays, with this naturally aiding from a sound and thermal perspective. We could then venture on and discuss the importance of openings, trickle vents and all of the other features that accompany modern-day windows — but we’ll leave that for another day.
Staying 'green' doesn't only have to cut your gas bills
The press might constantly be berating the gas and electricity providers, but let’s not forget that staying green also revolves around water savings as well. There are countless ways to slash your water consumption and as well as the standard day-to-day practices, there are now more permanent methods to save.
Rainwater harvesting systems are probably the biggest saver in this regard and the general belief is that they can slash your mains water consumption in half. With a well pump from Grundfos now priced so competitively, it means that they can be comfortably integrated with wells or even just a storage tank and be pumped into the main system. It’s not as advanced as it sounds in writing and will barely affect the external appearance of your property. In fact, the addition of a well could even hand it a little more charm.
Round it all off with SIPs
Finally, let’s round the whole thing off with some structural insulation panels. These are seen as the big thing in the construction industry right now and are the bread and butter of most modern designs. As well as retaining fantastic thermal properties, they allow for a lot of flexible cladding designs and this is a pretty much a prerequisite of contemporary design.
SIPs will keep heat in your house like no other type of insulation — and this will subsequently compliment any of the other systems that have been deciphered through the course of this guide.