Today’s thinking has changed – expressions like Eco-friendly, renewable, sustainable, CO2 footprint, environment or Save the Planet are swapping in our daily life and make clear that we live in a changing world where we no longer can ignore the climate change. People are aware of global heating and other negative climate effects and change attitudes to improve conditions for our environment. Besides a lot of little acts in daily life more and more people decide to live in a healthy, natural and ecological building, which is called “Eco-house”.
What makes a house “eco”? Which components distinguish a normal house from an eco-house? Firstly, there are the materials with they are made from. The planner gives preference to the use of natural materials for the construction. In difference to some “alternative” projects of people that live a completely natural life in self-constructed green houses completely “bio”, often called “Hippies”, today’s architects try to find a modern and innovative architecture language to create well designed and comfortable homes for modern thinking people. Green houses seem to be the right step forward in a healthy future.
So architects try to minimize the impact to construction resources that are used to build a house, and at the same time the impact, which will have the house during the daily use on the environment. That includes energy consumption, the emissions and the waste produced. All these factors are part of the sustainability of a building, not only its construction.
According to a survey made by Statista almost 50% of the participants could imagine to live in a green house. Nowadays eco-houses may also look the same as conventional houses, because to build a sustainable home doesn’t mean to construct with clay bricks and to put a green roof on it. Instead of that, it means to use natural materials from sustainable sources and make intelligent use of them during construction. Of course, often they remain visible in the exterior and interior to create a pleasant, natural design and a healthy indoor climate. Often wood is used due to its perfect, natural properties as moisture regulation and detoxicating properties.
The four principal properties of materials used in the eco-sector are: They have to be pollutant-free, with a low impact to the environment, and they have grown under sustainable circumstances. Also they should come from local sources to reduce contamination during the transport. An additional important aspect is that materials can be recycled without any problems to reuse them once the lifetime of the house comes to its end.
But not only the low impact, which eco-houses have on the environment, make them bio-friendly. Also, because of the excellent properties of sustainable materials, they are highly energy-efficient, which means, fewer energy resources are needed to run them. For that, eco-houses not only save the environment, but also the owner’s wallet and make eco-houses a very good investment while the prices of energy sources are rising continually. Of course, not everyone is blessed with a beautifully insulated eco-house. Most people live in older housing stock that is highly inefficient. However, there are things that homeowners can do to improve this. Air to Water Heat Pumps are one innovative way to reduce fossil fuel consumption, as they remove the need for gas boilers. Instead, they simply draw in the heat from the outside air and pump it into the house to warm water, which works even when it’s cold outside. It’s a massive improvement on before and can save the home-owner money too.
Saving money is, as it happens, one of the main reasons why people choose an eco-home. An enormous energy saving can be reached due to its intelligent construction. Not only the natural materials, but also the use of renewable energy sources like sunlight or other alternatives to fossil energies for heating or electricity. The excellent insulation of eco-houses converts them often in passivhaus, producing the same quantity of energy that is needed, or even in active house, which means, even more energy is produced than consumed. Integrated storage facility makes it possible.
That makes some advanced eco-houses completely independent of external energy suppliers thanks to innovative storage systems. As already mentioned before, there are some different kinds of low energy house types:
Solar house: Collectors are placed in the roof of the house to heat a special fluid, which is circulating through the integrated pipes. This fluid later heats a well-insulated water tank to be used as hot water source and supports about 5% of heating demand.
Passive house: Due to its intelligent construction with natural, highly insulating materials and additional insulation made of natural materials, the energy consumption of external resources in a passive house can be reduced nearly to zero. Often no additional heating system is needed, solar or geothermal energy is sufficient to run the house and keep it warm in wintertime and pleasantly cool in summertime.
Energy self-sufficient house: Similar to a passive house, this eco-house produces exactly the same quantity of energy as needed, making its inhabitants independent from external energy sources. Modern storage technology makes this possible.
Plus energy house or active house: Next generation of eco-houses, which are able to produce more energy as they consume. This is be achieved by the installation of thermal and photovoltaic solar systems plus storage facilities, able to feed surplus energy in the public grid, which means not only an extremely eco-friendly house, but also an extra income for its owner.
Resuming, all aspects that offer eco-houses make them not only extremely sustainable with the environment, but also offer great advantages to its owners, as saving energy and reducing the costs of maintenance, without any negative impact to the health or the living comfort.
About the author
Following nature’s example, Baufritz has been planning and constructing ecologically sustainable buildings for over 120 years. High-quality, pollutant-tested building and insulation materials are used to create individual architect’s houses that protect people and the environment.