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Whether you have an existing home or are building one, there are many architectural and design features that can help you go green

Fabio Venturi, director, Terramanzi Group, works as a sustainable design consultant and believes that going green starts at home. He presents homeowners with an opportunity to be eco-conscious and save money. “There are over 50 shades of green, so step back, take a deep breath and start with good, rational design – ideally aligned with a tested, best practice standard for homes, which here is the Excellence in Design for Greater E¬fficiencies (Edge) rating system, managed by the Green Building Council of South Africa,” says Fabio.

Homes following Edge principles are designed to use at least 20% less water, electricity and embodied energy, he says, and there are many things to consider when retrofitting an existing home or building a new one. Aside from improving behavioural habits (like switching off lights), it’s possible to have an eco-friendly home through clever design and other technical features.

Energy

Windows are one of the biggest conduits for heat loss (in winter) and heat gain (in summer). Only 20% of your wall area should be windows.
If you enjoy views and window space, install Low-E glass. This helps retain heat in winter and reduce heat gain in warmer seasons/climates.
A light-coloured roof and external walls will reflect heat and keep the home cool inside.
External shading limits the amount of heat coming into the home and helps keep the interior cool.
Roof insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat up or cool a building. In cold or temperate climates/seasons, insulate the home thoroughly before installing the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.

Equipment

About 60% of the energy used by a washing machine goes towards water heating, so models that use less water use less energy.
CFL, LED, or T5 bulbs reduce a building’s energy consumption. These bulbs last longer than incandescent bulbs, so maintenance costs are also reduced.
Motion sensor lights also reduce energy consumption.

Water

Low-flow showerheads reduce the amount of water used.
A dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes in the sink, and also saves time and money.
Dual-flush toilets reduce the amount of water used from around 13L in a single flush to 6L and 3L respectively.
Install rainwater harvesting systems and pipe the water to your washing machine, dishwasher and even shower and bath areas. Grey water also works, but requires diligent maintenance to contain odours.

Words: Anne Schauffer | Images: iStock

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