Discovering The Element


When it comes to building a green home, there are a number of elements that one needs to take into consideration.

These elements are often considered the building blocks of green design, and when used together provide environmental and economic benefits. Aside from providing you with lower utility costs, the environmental impact of your home can be reduced considerably when building according to green principles.

Designing a home from scratch and incorporating these particular elements is a lot easier and more beneficial than trying to install them into an already existing home. However, you can still strive to make your home “greener”. Any change, however small, if it is geared towards eco consciousness is a good change, especially where the environment is concerned.

One of the major elements of any green home is that of thermal efficiency.

Thermal efficiency relates to the regulation of the temperature within your home; and this is often affected by the temperatures that flow in and out of your home, therefore insulation and thermal mass are of fundamental importance. Double-glazed windows ensure that heat is not lost through windows and therefore will help reduce your energy bill.

Thermal mass is the material found behind a wall or under a floor that is able to store or retain heat from the sunlight hitting the surface, such as concrete. Properly placed windows and orientation of the home will optimise energy efficiency. Fortunately most homes are built north facing and allow the possibility of thermal efficiency whether you are building from scratch or renovating an existing home.

The usage of solar geysers and panels and rainwater systems make for an eco-friendlier home. Each of these will help alleviate, in some way, the global environmental problem while at the same time help you in the long run.

Eskom provides a rebate program for those installing solar geysers, and the double benefit of living in a country where sunshine is the predominant weather element means that we experience more solar radiation —almost twice that of Europe.

An average domestic environment uses approximately 40% of its electricity to create hot water. “By employing the ambient air and the sun s natural energy plus the solar technology now available, householders can reduce their dependence on the electrical grid and the effect of greenhouse gasses on the planet,” says Debbie van Archterbergh, the owner of KZN Solar.

Other elements include proper waste management (such as recycling), efficient water regulation (such as the usage of rainwater and grey water systems), orientation of your home and passive design.

By using these elements, whether a combination of the above, or a few, can transform your home into becoming part of the solution to the global warming dilemma, and not let it remain part of the problem.

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