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Sustainable building is all about energy efficient design, conservation of resources and healthy living for you and your family. As sustainable homes and lifestyles become increasingly popular, "green," or environmentally friendly home building supplies have become more common and are getting cheaper all the time. There are a number of ways to make an environmentally friendly house and there are alternatives and options for every economic level.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why sustainable building?
The building sector has the greatest potential to reduce CO2 emissions. Currently, 30% of global CO2 emissions and 40% of global resource consumption (3 billion tons of raw materials annually) is a result of constructing buildings.

The concept of sustainable building incorporates a variety of strategies during the design and construction of building projects. The use of green building materials and products can offer many benefits to the owner and occupants:

  • Reduced maintenance/replacement costs over the life of the building.
  • Energy conservation.
  • Improved occupant health and productivity.
  • Lower costs associated with changing space configurations.
  • Greater design flexibility. 

Using green building materials and products lessens the environmental impact of your home or business and promotes conservation of dwindling non-renewable resources internationally. In addition, integrating green building materials into building projects can help reduce the environmental impacts associated with the extraction, transport, processing, fabrication, installation, reuse, recycling, and disposal of these building industry source materials.

What is a green building product or material?
Green building materials are composed of renewable, rather than nonrenewable resources. Green materials are environmentally responsible because impacts are considered over the life of the product.

What materials are energy efficient resources:

  • Products with identifiable recycled content.
  • Materials that are harvested from sustainably managed sources and preferably have an independent certification (e.g. certified wood) and are certified by an independent third party.
  • Products that are manufactured with resource-efficient processes including reducing energy consumption, minimising waste (recycled, recyclable and or source reduced product packaging) and reducing greenhouse gases.
  • Building materials, components and systems found locally or regionally saving energy and resources in transportation to the project site.
  • Materials that are salvaged, refurbished, or remanufactured.
  • Reusuable and recyclable materials that can be easily dismantled and reused or recycled at the end of their useful life.
  • Products enclosed in recycled content or recyclable packaging.
  • Durable materials that are longer lasting than conventional products.

What materials can I use to enhance Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)?

  • Low or non-toxic materials that emit few or no carcinogens, reproductive toxicants, or irritants.
  • Products that have minimal emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
  • Materials installed with minimal VOC-producing compounds, or no-VOC mechanical attachment methods and minimal hazards.
  • Moisture resistant products and systems that resist moisture or inhibit the growth of biological contaminants in buildings.
  • Materials, components, and systems that require only simple, non-toxic, or low-VOC methods of cleaning.
  • Products that promote healthy IAQ by identifying indoor air pollutants or enhancing the air quality.

How do I make my home or business more energy efficient?
Incorporate natural light into the house design. Energy-efficient windows can help with heating and cooling as well as providing ample natural light, reducing the need to use electric lights and lowering energy costs of the house.

You can go further by using photovoltaic panels to provide green electricity. Recent subsidies, grants and incentives such as the Renewable Heat Incentive and the Feed in Tariff schemes, let owners of renewable energy systems generate an income. Solar PV (Photovoltaics) systems earn an income for all of the electricity that is produced, whether it is used onsite or exported, for a period of 25 years. This has made investing in green energy technologies far more attractive.

Or you could take advantage of the energy in the Earth using a geothermal system to heat and cool your home. You could also install an Exhaust Air Recovery System, solar thermal heating or under-floor heating, which all help to make your home or business as energy efficient as possible.

You could also include a greywater system. Water from washing clothes and showering can be reused for other purposes such as flushing toilets. Building the greywater system is inexpensive since it requires minimal additional plumbing, but it also reduces long-term costs and thus makes the house or business more affordable over time.

These days it is possible to build a home or business that is efficient, environmentally-friendly and affordable. Whether you are looking simply to cut your carbon footprint or looking to reduce your domestic or commercial dependency on rising energy costs, rising fuel prices and rising oil prices, AFA will be happy to advise you on the best way forward.


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