Impact on the environment has become a key topic of consideration in the building industry, and the trend of constructing, using greener methodologies and technologies, in particular for office and even hotel developments, is growing around the world. Many sustainable construction principles have become popular for home owners too, with environmental awareness informing the architectural design, materials used (wall flooring, windows), room placement, the landscaping, and of course the interior design as well. The obvious objectives of green building are to support the efficient use of our natural resources, to reduce waste and pollution, to disturb the natural habitat as little as possible; and to use locally procured or natural materials where applicable.If you are investing in a home that you see yourself being in for decades, and you want to live in an eco-friendly manner, then this decision will already impact the land or stand that you decide to purchase to build your house on.
The materials you use to build the house will already lay a foundation for the interior design. Most green homes have open plan design layouts, which improve light and ventilation. This open plan approach also allows you to incorporate nature into parts of the house, either with an interior feature, or with a direct connection to an outdoor space.
Your actual interiors are generally the smaller footprint generator, although if you’re serious about going green, every bit helps! However, a further, and often neglected, benefit of green interiors is that they can improve the air quality in your home, thus doing their bit, not only protect the external environment but also to support the health of your family.
Going green on your interior does not mean that you need to sacrifice the beautiful textiles that feather your nest, in lieu of hessian sacks. There are many fabulous natural materials and fibres available for your curtains, upholstery and rugs, and organic materials, such as wool, cotton or jute are popular alternatives to synthetics. Wool is also naturally a fire retardant that absorbs moisture, captures dust and pollen, and reduces humidity and allergens in the air.
Solid wood furniture, from woods such as walnut, teak, oak, maple, or South African Blackwood, is generally held together by basic wood joinery techniques, rather than adhesives. Wood, or bamboo, is also a great choice for your flooring.
If you are building green, your windows become both a functional and an aesthetic feature. In particular when your home is located amidst impactful surroundings, you can use large windows to frame scenic panoramas – the mountains, the veld, the rolling hillside, a cityscape, or a beautiful feature in your landscaped garden.
Not so long ago, when we were facing load-shedding in South Africa, people dreamed of living entirely off the grid. Many greenfield projects have since incorporated solar systems; heating by water systems; grey water harvesting; recycling etc. Yes, the initial outlay is very expensive, but it will eventually pay back in the long term. If you cannot afford the full hog, but feel you’d like to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, remember that every little bit helps. Start small, and work towards the big idea.