Engel & Völkers presents - Project Green House

In an effort to save our immediate environment and on a larger scale our planet, going Green is the order of the day. The Green philosophy is spilling over into many facets of our lives including how and where we live, as well as our relationship with nature so that it is more symbiotic rather than destructive.

One of the first things that can be adapted to be more in line with going Green are our homes. With this in mind, Engel & Völkers Potchefstroom launched their green initiative by building the first environmentally friendly, energy efficient house in the area at de Land Estate in Potchefstroom.

Project Green House was initiated by Carl Venter, Licence Partner of Engel & Völkers Potchefstroom, with the help of Devilliers du Toit Architects in Pretoria. The project commenced in January 2014 and has since then been monitored by experts from North West University in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the various green technologies used in a specific climate.

“Following on from going green in how we eat, commute and consume, adapting a building to be more energy efficient, more conscious of natural surroundings and making optimal use of the environment is next in line. The idea was for the house to be used as a guideline for developers that want to be at the forefront of green building and for home-owners who want to go green with their existing homes,” says project initiator Carl Venter.

A lot of research was undertaken before commencement of the project, and the house will continue to be monitored and tested in order to achieve accurate results in energy efficiency and cost effectiveness.

“Project Green aims to create a prototype or a blue print, if you like, of a residential property that is as close to the perfect environmentally friendly ideal as possible. Building design, construction, maintenance and the way we live needs to adapt and move forward and this is exactly what we’re doing with the project,” continues Venter.

There were a number of factors taken into account in each step of the building process. The first step was location.

Step 1: Location

  • The placement of the house on the stand is the first step towards energy and cost savings.
  • The house is placed to make optimal use of the natural surroundings. Trees to be retained, preserved and incorporated into the layout to effectively make the most of the shade they offer.
  • The property's placement on the stand is planned in such a way as to maximise the magnificent views to all sides.
  • The position of the sun is taken into account to ensure that the house receives passive heating in winter and that it is sufficiently protected in the summer.
  • The prevailing wind directions are considered for natural ventilation of the house as well as to ensure adequate protection of the outdoor living areas.

The second step focused on Green activities that included the selection of the right building team. The architects, contractors and design team were all green building specialists with experience in green building methods.

Step 2: Focused green activities

  • Choose the right building team.
  • Have a construction plan to ensure that any disruption to natural surroundings is kept to a minimum during building.
  • Ensure that the layout of the house enables residents to live in harmony with nature.
  • Energy consumption and water usage to be cost-effective and have little or no impact on environment.
  • Storm water management determined by finishes used on the ground. Finishes to be less solid and seamlessly blend in with the environment.
  • Water-saving appliances to be used, in order to ensure that less water is wasted on the sewerage system.
  • Lighting used will not negatively impact the wildlife or the night skies.
  • The size of the house is meaningful and not redundant.

The third element to consider is insulation and thermal comfort. Effective insulation creates a welcoming and warm interior during winter and a cool and comfortable interior during summer.

Step 3: Insulation and Thermal Comfort

“In doing our research we realised the significance of insulation. The ‘green’ ideal is to design and insulate a house to achieve a thermal passive shell. A lot of the heat that we spend hours, vast amounts of money and electricity on to create in winter, just gets lost through roofs, floors, windows, doors and walls – basically every part that is not insulated,” explains Venter.

Insulation implemented in the Project Green house:

  • Floors: insulated with Polystyrene.
  • Walls: good quality clay bricks and the application of additional insulating methods was used.
  • Ceiling: additional insulation products were used in the ceiling.
  • Doors and Windows: to minimize air leakage, smartly designed aluminium frames with additional insulation features were added.
  • Glass: since 25 – 30% of heat can be lost or gained through windows, the type of glass was carefully considered and double glazing added in rooms where it was needed.
  • Roof: to curb heat transfer through the roof, the roof comprises a high-quality sheet metal product with a reflective colour.

“Engel & Völkers is not just about selling homes, but about families, people and lifestyles. With Project Green, the aim is to provide insight and information on how each individual can make a difference, no matter what the scale,” concludes Venter.

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