How to make your home construction more sustainable


Sustainability is a common concern these days and most industries have slowly incorporated practices to become more sustainable Few things we do as individuals have as much an impact as could be had by larger entities. The small things we do in pursuit of sustainability do help but the truth is that, for the most part, their effect is marginal. The same cannot be said of home construction. Building a house is one of those things we do only once if ever and it impacts a lifetime. It is something that will affect a large part of your life. You will spend a long time building it and even longer living in it. This would be one of the most ideal places to incorporate sustainability goals right from the start. Here are 3 ways you could make your home construction more sustainable:

1. Work with those around you

Use local labor. People around where you build bring local expertise and vernacular perspectives on how a house should be. Having local labor means you will not have people coming from far-off places to the site. This is less fuel used overall.

2. Take what’s closer

Use locally available material. This will save on the cost of transporting it from far-off places. This means less fuel has been used in transporting it. The material you need might not be locally available. Check if there is a substitute you could use that can be sourced from the area.

3. Avoid machinery

The machinery itself consumes power. The more you run it, the worse it is. At the same time, heavy machinery is usually transported over long distances to get to the construction site. Using less machinery doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend on labor. Go for techniques and elements that would require less machinery. I went to house where the owner chose to use a vernacular roof made of sacks filled with sand over timber beams for his veranda instead of standard slabs.

Simple, Not Easy

There are other principles that can be used to get your home to be more sustainable. The three I have listed are interesting to me as they are general principles that can easily be incorporated from the design phase. Trying these is challenging when you begin doing it. The reason common unsustainable methods have become widespread is exactly because of how effortless it has become. Moving materials and labor has become fairly simple so few people question the impact it has. The use of machinery has become so ingrained into our lifestyle that we do not question its necessity. At the end of the day, it is also important to be practical about these things. The suggestions should be applied wherever possible. Sometimes local expertise is not enough. Sometimes the material you need is not available locally. Sometimes what you want to build requires heavy machinery. Just make sure you consider all the options and give sustainable options a chance.