The term “eco-friendly” means “not environmentally harmful” and over the past couple of years, the world has been moving towards that direction. Eco-friendly refers to those products that contribute to green living and other sustainable practices that prevent pollution in the land, air and water. Sustainable, green and eco-friendly are just some of the buzz words that you may have encountered and where the world is moving towards.
The principle behind an eco-friendly building is to create structures that are safe with little or no impact on the environment or the inhabitant’s health and consists of the following key elements:
Ensuring inhabitant’s health: A home is not just a structure that protects us from the elements, it is where people spend most of their lives and therefore it is necessary that houses do not harm the inhabitants in any way.
Building materials - Eco friendly building materials are necessary for a green home which means that, where possible, materials should be obtained from those processes/ sources that leave a minimum carbon footprint. This could also involve the use of recycled materials such as recycled wood, rubber flooring etc.
Eco-friendly products - As well as building materials, it is important to check that items such as paints, wood finishes and other incidental products are eco-friendly. Certian materials are produced using harsh chemicals that could damage the environment
Energy efficiency - A modern eco-friendly house should be as energy efficient as possible. Good insulation is key to an efficient running of a green home. A well-insulated house will help to keep the heat out during the summer months and this can save on costs like installing an air conditioner
Water conservation - Saving water and reducing water consumption is an important part of green living. While it is possible to save water by stopping dripping taps, not leaving taps running and other conservation tips, installing new water efficient devices is the best way to ensure that water is conserved and not wasted.
Alternative energy - There are many ways of generating energy at home. Developments in solar power have meant that it is now possible to generate electricity from the sun on even overcast days.
Efficient use of resources - Since there is an over-exploitation of resources and considering that many are non-renewable, it is necessary to use them efficiently during the construction process
Local sources - Locally sourced materials are the ideal choice to reduce carbon emissions and cost on account of their transportation, since many construction materials are needed in large quantities
Averting pollution and ecological degradation - Production of building materials, the construction process, energy used during occupancy and disposal of construction waste at the end of construction should not contaminate or create harmful waste.
Also see below some additional techniques by which you can become eco-friendly on occupancy and going forward:
Reduce amount of waste generated: The waste management processes can be managed by reducing what is produced and consumed which can inevitably reduce the amount of waste generated. Recycle items like aluminium cans, plastic, paper, glass and reuse items for different purposes instead of disposing them.
Conserve water and electricity: You can follow a couple of simple ways like turning off lights when not in use, fixing leaks, proper insulation, using daylight, installing energy efficient windows, purchasing energy efficient gadgets can reduce your daily energy consumption.
Plant more trees: The is the greatest gift that that can be given back to the environment is to plant a tree since they give us oxygen, fruits, timber, prevent soil erosion, control floods, provide shelter etc.
Use energy efficient products: Energy efficient products are rated based on stars awarded and greater the star rating for a product, greater is the products energy efficiency since they consume less energy and prove to be eco-friendly. For e.g. CFL bulbs consume 30% less power and up to 8 times longer than traditional bulbs.
Use of public transportation: It is recommended to either take public transportation for daily commute or pooling in with your office colleagues which reduces carbon footprint. You could also opt to ride a bicycle or walk on foot.
Buy Recycled Products: It is always advisable to look out for recycling symbol when buying items for your house. This will make you environmentally responsible and eco-friendly. You could also carry grocery bag to avoid buying items in plastic bags or use paper bags instead of plastic bags
Natural cleaning products: Using harmful chemicals to clean is very detrimental for the environment and when washed they end up in the water supply. That means water will take more purification before it is safe to use again. Alternatively, for most day-to-day cleaning tasks natural products like vinegar, citric acid and sodium bicarbonate can be used in place of caustic chemicals to great effect.