While there is a constant need to build new houses in order to meet our growing population,
the building industry is also responsible for many of the great challenges of our time, such as
climate change, resource depletion and pollution.
The building industry is largely dependent on cheap oil for everything, from the manufacture
and construction of materials to the machinery and other equipment needed for construction
With the threat of climate change and declining oil resources, reducing our energy
consumption is essential for our survival. Sustainable architecture has developed in response
to this need. Here’s a summary of the most common concepts and building materials used in
domestic projects today.
Ancient Materials in the 21st Century
While 21st century concrete and steel has pushed aside traditional building materials such as
straw, clay and rammed earth, these materials are still a good option for modern eco-friendly
From an environmental perspective, these ancient building blocks have an advantage
over many modern materials, and their endurance cannot be doubted as countless ancient
structures still stand. Using local, natural and renewable resources helps to cut down waste
and represents a huge reduction in the energy consumed to make and transport the materials.
Wood can be used, if sourced from sustainable sources, and other sustainable materials
include blocks made from recycled cement and sheep’s wool for insulation.
Depending on your location and the direction of your roof, solar panels and wind turbines are
an excellent way to harness energy. The energy created can be used to power electrical items
in your home, and any excess energy sold back to the grid, making them a cost-effective
resource. You can also use the energy to heat water, which can be used to power underfloor
An excellent option for heating your sustainable home is a wood burner, as it uses renewable
resources, and rainwater can be harvested for flushing the toilet and for use in the garden.
Passive solar design uses the natural movement of heat and air in a home to maintain a
comfortable temperature with little or no assistance, and is achieved by designing a property
to maximise the benefits it receives from the sun.
Stack effect is a natural way to keep a building cool, avoiding the use of air-conditioning.
This natural ventilation mechanism is driven by thermal buoyancy – because warm air is less
dense than cool air it will escape from openings high in the building, ensuring cool air within.
If you’re interested in learning more about sustainable architecture for your domestic project,
contact Yelo Architects today.