Sustainable houses are steadily growing in popularity, and it's easy to understand why. These properties are designed with the environment firmly in mind, but the benefits go far beyond green credentials, saving homeowners money and forming part of an overall healthier lifestyle. Although many eco-friendly homes are designed that way from the earliest architectural stages, it's never too late to add some sustainable features.
Make the most of the sun
The sun is a natural source of light and heat, so the smartest sustainable designs make full use of its powers. Solar panels can be used to transform the sun’s energy into electricity, but don't worry if you're in a part of the world that can't guarantee minimal cloud cover. Thermodynamic solar panels work well in Northern European climates, as they don’t rely on direct sunlight. Instead, they use ambient air temperature and work at night as well as during the day.
If you’re building an entirely new property, you can base the whole architectural design around attracting optimum sunlight. In the northern hemisphere, this means that the longest sides of your home should face north and south. This way, you’ll get minimum solar heat in summer and maximum heat in winter. It’s also a wise idea to plant deciduous trees around the house. The shaded leaves will keep your home cool in summer, while the bare branches will let sunlight in during winter.
Don’t underestimate insulation
Double-glazed windows, thermal curtains, and properly insulated walls and ceilings can make a big difference to a home’s sustainability, cutting down on the hours you'll need to use your central heating. If you’re building or renovating, you have the opportunity to choose a good quality non-toxic insulation. There are lots of green companies who make insulation out of recycled products as diverse as old newspaper, denim, sheep’s wool, and hemp.
Use natural paint
Paint can have a negative impact on the environment, with the manufacture of most synthetic paints creating up to 30 litres of waste for every liter of paint. When you’re choosing paint, it’s important to pay attention to the label. Look for paints that are non-toxic, don’t have toxic fumes, and are free from volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They should include natural ingredients and minerals like clay, have a long lasting finish, and be easy to clean off brushes and rollers.
Get a greener garden
Make your outdoor space sustainable by choosing your plants carefully. Instead of choosing exotic blooms, go for native plants. These will require less maintenance, as they’re adapted to your local growing conditions. You should also consider which plants attract bees: the bee population has been steadily declining, and by planting carefully chosen shrubs, you can support their survival. Adding a vegetable garden will further reduce your carbon footprint, while a compost pile can provide excellent food for your garden and minimise your contribution to landfills.
If you want to purchase a property that’s fully sustainable and ready for occupation, speak to Engel & Völkers. We are specialised in high quality properties available in over 38 countries. Our real estate agents will be happy to discuss your needs and requirements to help you to secure the property of your dreams, with expert advice from start to finish.
If you like the property on the picture or if you are looking for an object similar to the villa shown, take a look at the villas of the project "AURA".