The 3 things to consider for green eco homes projects

Image of green town by Buildsmith

Eco homes projects and greener living appeals to us all. Between cost savings and reduced environmental impact, it’s win-win for both residents and our planet. But with so many factors to consider, how do you know when green means “go”?

Here’s how we work alongside our clients to ensure their eco homes projects are right for them – with no red stop lights along the way.

1. What does green mean to you?

The first step in successful eco homes projects is to determine what sustainable living means to you. Why do you want to go green? Sustainable living comes in many forms, including:

  • Reduced energy use (with helpful cost savings alongside!)
  • Protecting local wildlife and increasing biodiversity
  • Reducing your carbon footprint – in the build, for example using natural materials, and in the daily lives of residents throughout the building’s lifetime.

It’s also important to consider how your eco homes project will fit into the local community. Passive houses, for example, are stark structures within an urban environment. In this case, a green roof may be a better means of going green (literally and sustainably). By utilising green rooftops in urban spaces, you’ll reap the benefits of increased biodiversity, by providing a habitat for bees and pollinating insects in an otherwise harsh landscape.

Likewise, the building materials you choose should fit carefully into the nearby

environment. For example, natural products such as sheeps wool insulation or a timber frame build can be a subtle way of harnessing the benefits of eco-friendly construction materials.

Getting your green brief right is the fundamental cornerstone of great eco homes projects. What do you want to achieve by going green?

2. Renew or reuse?

Government guidelines for new, low carbon homes promise a whopping carbon reduction of almost one third. But this only takes into account the running of the home post-construction, through eco-friendly initiatives like PV-solar panels and highly insulated construction materials.

What’s missing? The carbon embodiment of the construction materials.

Reusing existing materials can have a vast impact on the carbon footprint of your eco homes projects. If a construction material exists, the carbon used to create this material is already tied up in it. It’s also alarming to know that construction, demolition and excavation waste accounted for over 60% of the UK’s waste in 2018.

By using existing materials, you can reduce the carbon footprint of your project. This can extend to repurposing existing structures, or recycling elements of a structure that is no longer fit for purpose.

The result? Your eco homes projects go beyond the government guidelines, taking into account the sustainability of both the running costs of your eco-homes and the carbon embodiment of the construction process itself.

Of course, when reusing materials, there is often an element of compromise. For example, by increasing insulation in an existing structure, you’ll need to compromise on floor space. This comes down to personal choice – which matters more to the success of your eco homes projects?

And where you can’t directly reduce your carbon footprint, it pays to think outside of the green box. For example, you can seek out suppliers who offset their own carbon emissions through green initiatives. Green materials, great living spaces.

3. Understand your lifetime energy saving

When it comes to successful eco homes projects, you’ll need to carefully balance costs against your lifetime ecological gains. The ultimate eco-homes projects inevitably require a huge capital investment.

Each green strategy implemented, from grey water usage to harnessing renewable energy on-site through heat pump technologies adds a significant cost to the overall build. And though sustainability is key to great urban design, ultimately increased costs can harm the financial success of your eco-homes projects.

When it comes to costs, you need to consider the lifetime investment. How long will residents need to live in your eco homes projects to receive a return on the financial investment of each green construction solution?

Plus, is it important to take into account the impact of repairs, maintenance or a change of ownership throughout this time. According to the English Housing Survey, the average length of time a UK homeowner had been living in their current property was 16 years in 2020-21, whereas those renting privately had been living in their current property for an average of 4.2 years. Is this long enough for your residents to see a return on their green investment?

When it comes to truly green eco homes projects, set your goals before you start your build

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the idealism of sustainable living solutions. Eco homes projects can be hugely successful, and great places for people to live with significantly reduced environmental impacts.

Having a clear plan for what you want to gain from your eco homes projects is key. What will you include in your build to have the greatest ecological impact, whilst still providing affordable living solutions?

Our experts here at Buildsmith Solutions can give you the pointers you need to steer your eco homes projects in the greenest direction. For more information, explore our eco homes projects page and get in touch to see how our construction consultancy can simultaneously maximise your sustainable outcomes and reduce your key costs.