Asia is behind the curve when it comes to environmental issues but our rapidly growing population – 60% of the world’s inhabitants – means that we need to catch up fast. Start at home with these green tips!
The ecological struggle is real: air and water pollution, poor sewage and waste disposal, deforestation and other natural resource depletions, etc. We show you how to do your part, because the earth is everyone’s home.
The right site
Location is (almost) everything! Here are some things to consider when making your choice:
- Think about your home’s demographic in 10, 20, 30 years. Will your current location be able to easily accommodate renovations caused by a changing family unit – births, deaths, elderly parents, and teenagers leaving home? Is your home too big or small?
- Look for areas that are close to where you work, school, shop, and socialise to cut down on transport costs and pollution. Alternatively, check out the availability of public transportation in your area.
- Living in a densely populated housing area allows cooperative living; public facilities such as piping, electricity, playgrounds, postal services, and public transportation are fully utilised.
- Can your home adapt to climate changes and scarcity of resources? If you have the money for it, ensure your place has adequate sunlight and sufficient roof space for solar panels and rainwater harvesting systems. Garden area is also important for growing your own vegetables and managing your waste.
- Check for natural hazards such as storms, soil erosion, poor coverage from strong winds, or susceptibility to earthquakes and tremors that can cause damage to your home and environment.
Building orientation and design
There are many ways to minimise the amount of energy you use for cooling or lighting purposes.
- Hot areas benefit from larger windows facing north. Avoid east- and west-facing windows which can lead to overheating.
- On the flip side, ensure there is sufficient exterior shading and greenery around your house. Landscape, landscape, landscape.
- Check the direction of wind flow in your area – casement windows and French doors in the right orientation offer lots of insulation and take advantage of cooling breezes.
- Consider where to locate different rooms depending on usage. Where will you need more natural light and air during the day or night?
There are various factors to think about when looking at the ingredients that make up your home:
- Embodied energy is the amount of energy used to mine, process, manufacture, and deliver resources – look for locally sourced material to minimise waste.
- Reuse old material from your current home or visit your local scrap yard for reclaimed wood, tiles, plasterboards, and more.
- Avoid non-renewable or non-sustainable building materials – cement, ceramics, bricks, aluminium, glass, and steel are great alternatives.
- Design your house in such a way that structures can be easily dismantled and reused in future. You want a durable but adaptable home.
- Correctly measure and specify the sizes needed for windows, doors, and other fixtures to avoid wastage.
- Invest in heat-absorbent material for walls and flooring such as brick, marble, or parquet that can lower your energy consumption.
- Dark colours can absorb up to 90% of sunlight. Use light-coloured paint to reflect heat away from your home.
- Take it one step further by applying reflective coatings like white latex and radiant barriers like aluminium foil sheets to your roof.
- Look for ‘smart windows’ with technology that reduces heat and UV absorption.
Reduce both your energy costs and carbon footprint!
- Install solar panels that use natural, sustainable sunlight to lower your energy consumption and save money in the long term.
- Harvest rainwater by installing rain barrels on your roof – this can be used for toilet or outdoor purposes.
- Use light bulbs and appliances that are more energy efficient and generate less heat.
- Invest in low-flow or adjustable-flow taps, showerheads, and toilets to conserve water.
In Industrialised Asia, an average person generates about 80kg of food waste annually. Food rot produces methane, which contributes to global warming.
- Do your part for the environment by composting! Research well before embarking on your environmental adventure as poor composting habits can lead to foul smells and pests.
- Separate your paper, plastics, and glass for recycling.
- Think before you buy! Do you really need 10 dinosaur-shaped plastic vases? Yes, but be the change you want to see in the world.
This article was originally published as How to design a home mother nature will thank you for by atap.co and is written by Stephanie Francesca Pereira