Being eco-friendly used to be a bit of a ‘Debbie Downer’, something to keep to yourself. It was always attached to being ‘out there’, the fallout from the free love ‘save the planet’ times of the ’70s. Then, over the last decade, studies and statistics continued to come up, along with government drives to be more green, and suddenly, being eco-friendly not only became acceptable, but cool.
70% of Americans think the environment is more important than economic growth and there are currently 3.5 million vegans in the UK, many of which are vegan for environmental reasons or at least in part because of the environment.
The fact is 80% of the world’s energy still comes from fossil fuels, natural disasters are happening more regularly than ever, severe coral bleaching is 5 times more frequent than 40 years ago and 70% of litter in the sea is not biodegradable and that problem is set to be three times worse at some point in the next 15 years or so.
Lots of different parts of living have been affected by this increase in care for the world, including construction and building. The chances are if you are looking into renovating a property you will have considered the environment and kept that in mind when making your property over. Reports released over the last few years suggest that potential buyers would be willing to pay 6% more for a property with eco-friendly features so, in terms of increasing the value of your home it makes sense to think ‘green’ when you renovate.
It isn’t that difficult to be more eco-friendly when you build these days, and in some instances, it won’t cost you much more time or money either.
Here are our top tips for an eco-friendly building renovation that benefits your property, and the planet:
Use Eco-Friendly Building Materials
When building, try to work with a company that is considerate of the environment, who uses the best possible eco-friendly materials. Timber, blockwork, brick and pre-fabs can be very ‘green’ if sourced well. Brick and concrete work well in terms of insulation and temperature regulation. There are also cladding options that can bump up the green points of your home even more. Insulation can also be more eco-friendly using newspaper, sheep’s wool and wood fibre. You can find more information on eco-friendly building materials here.
Keep It Heat Efficient
Heating the home can be a really strong point of remaining sustainable with your renovations. Solar panels, ground source heat pumps and biomass boilers can all be really great ways to get heat into your home without using fossil fuels. Insulation and high-performance windows and doors are also extremely important for keeping any heat you do generate, inside the home. The Energy Savings Trust has some really great information on insulation that you can read here.
Think About Triple Glazing & Frame Material
Triple glazing is the latest in thermal technology designed to maintain a high eco score for your home, although double glazing is still perfectly acceptable and is generally accepted to be the most common option at the moment. Do consider the frames for any windows or glass framed additions to your home.
UPVC is generally not considered very environmentally friendly at all, whereas there are high-quality options that avoid UPVC , which are readily available and that provide a much better aesthetic. You can get windows and stunning external bifold doors that use options like timber, oak, aluminium and au-clad (oak on the inside, aluminium on the outside) that are just as effective as UPVC but are more eco-friendly and usually look better too.
Use Low VOC Paint
A low VOC paint is one that uses a lower amount of Volatile Organic Compounds than traditional paint. The point of VOC is to slow the drying process down so that when the VOCs are removed the formulation is different and they are likely to dry quicker and in some cases, the result can be slightly different in that the surface is rougher.
The reason that VOCs are negative for the environment is because they reduce the air quality around wherever they are used and so they add to pollution. Low VOC paint is available to buy quite easily now and with the right roller application, the results are usually near-enough the same as with standard paints.
Use Eco-Friendly Flooring
The floor takes up a lot of space in your home so it makes sense to think carefully about the type of flooring you will use if you want to remain eco-friendly. Linoleum, glass tiles, concrete, wool carpet, recycled plastic bottle carpet, rubber and reclaimed hardwood are all great options. However, the most popular eco-friendly flooring options at the moment are definitely cork and bamboo.
Cork is from the bark of a cork tree which grows back every three years, so no trees even need to be cut to make the flooring. Cork is also hypoallergenic, fire retardant, naturally insect repellent and it can be stained or painted any colour you like. Bamboo, on the other hand, is actually a grass, not a tree, so is equally sustainable and like cork, can be re-harvested in around 3 years. It is light, easy to install and looks very similar to hardwood flooring.
“The earth is a fine place worth fighting for” – Ernest Hemingway
Being more mindful of how your renovations impact the environment is a really great starting point when it comes to creating a sustainable home you can be proud of. Do your research, work with companies who have awareness and experience with eco-friendly building and always check the products you are using match the standard of less eco-friendly options.
The chances are, the efforts you make will go a long way to making your home a lot more eco-friendly than it was before, increasing the ‘green appeal’ of your property, and your own sense of pride about doing your bit to avoid harming the planet.