ecofriendThe latest issue of NZ’s Architecture Now/Houses has an article on this subject, and some readers will know that the Ferndale subdivision in Waikanae began promoting itself with this claim about 5 years ago; the massive Maypole company development has since jumped on the bandwagon similarly.

We’re still planning to do an in-depth analysis of the latter (its spokespeople are proving difficult to talk to), but here is the concept as presented by this magazine.

With growing concerns about the toxic effects of chemicals and plastics in the natural environment, and whether or not manufacturing labour is ethical, we investigate sustainable practices and reliably sourced, eco-friendly homewares and materials.

Building is a huge factor in carbon emissions and waste. Making good choices around the types of product used for a build can help to reduce the carbon footprint of a house, as can reusing materials from houses that are being torn down or renovated, and ensuring waste products and packaging are recycled or disposed of sustainably, wherever possible.

It is also important to make sure there was no human cost in the making of the products you purchase for your home, by ensuring they can be traced back to an ethical supply chain. And, when it comes to choosing materials for their carbon footprints, it can be a matter of weighing the benefits against the drawbacks. It is a balancing act to ensure that any impact on the environment is outweighed by a product’s output in the long run.

Of course, a warm, dry and well-ventilated house will be better for the environment, as well as healthier for its occupants, than one that is cold and damp. There are many options for insulation, some of which utilise recycled and sustainable materials (wool insulation is an example of the latter).

There are certifications available for anyone who wants to ensure their home is as energy-efficient as possible, such as achieving Passive House certification. However, keeping a design simple, ensuring cross-ventilation and making use of solar gain are all ways in which a home can be made energy-efficient, even if it doesn’t gain a plaque at the front door.

Full article