Being sustainable on a new build is fairly straightforward as you have a blank canvas to work with although it can be costly. With renovation works it is a bit more complicated. You don’t necessarily want to disturb the entire structure of the house if you are simply updating a room or adding an extension. There are however some fairly straightforward ways to be sustainable when carrying out refurbishment works. Simple systems can be introduced into the design to reduce its carbon footprint and standard building materials can be replaced by more sustainable and environmentally friendly options. Here are a few ideas than can be incorporated into your building project.
In the garden simply adding a water butt to your main roof guttering downpipe and a gutter and water butt to a shed creates a great water supply for the garden.
If you are having a new bathroom fitted it can also include a grey water recycling system . A tank and cleaning system is installed above the toilet cistern which takes waste water from the sink, bath and shower and re-uses it to flush the toilets. These systems are made by a few companies, one of which is Roca and can be bought through City Plumbing.
The benefits of solar panels are well known. They claim to be able to provide up to 50% of your domestic energy needs but are not always great looking. This statistic assumes that we get some sun! Dimplex make photovoltaic panels that are fairly slim-line so not quite as offensive to the eye as some brands. Also Alpha heating make panels that can sit flush with the roof tiles.
If you are insulating your loft or carrying out a loft conversion there are a couple of insulation materials that can be used in place of traditional rock wool or rigid insulation sheets.
Knauf rafter roll is a semi rigid mineral wool insulation which is made from rapidly renewable sources that are bio based and formaldehyde free.
Or for a really natural option Thermafleece ecoroll TF35 is used for both thermal and acoustic insulation and is made mostly from sheep wool.
Celotex PL4000 is a rigid insulation board that can be used in cavity walls. It is manufactured using a blowing agent which has zero ozone depletion potential and low global warming potential.
Celotex also make XR4000 which is a high performance insulation produced by the same method but is for use in solid concrete floors, useful if you are building an extension.
MDF is a sheet material which is used for joinery, boxing and built in or flat pack furniture. Most kitchen cabinets are made from MDF. Medium Density Fibreboard is made using compressed wood and its manufacturing process is not generally considered to be environmentally friendly. Although Medite one of the largest manufacturers of MDF claim to have a forestry plan to regenerate the woodlands rapidly through careful husbandry and use woods only from quick growing woodlands.
An alternative to MDF is Ecoboard which instead of being made from wood is fabricated using straw and reads and its manufacturing process has a negative carbon footprint.
Egger peel clean is a sustainable moisture resistant board that can be used in place of chipboard as a flooring material.
Plasterboard is not generally considered to be very environmentally friendly as when disposed of it creates high levels of sulphate. An alternative material is called Fermacell which is made using 94% recycled materials and environmentally friendly processes.
There are various websites that can help.